This past Summer I was invited along with a few others to sit on a Local Authors’ Panel at the library and share a few words. The irony was not wasted on me. It has always been a struggle for me to speak in public. Which is a double irony since I seemed to be comfortable shouting out orders like a Marine Sergeant to thirty or more people, or get on stage in a bikini, posing for hundreds.
Why then, would I be
uncomfortable terrified of speaking or more specifically, reading my written words in public?
I am sure part of it was (and still is) because I never “hid” in my writing, but revealed my naked soul on paper, and only knew how to write that way…naked. Soul-baring. Baring the soul is dangerous stuff…but doing it in public…well that could be suicidal. Acting like a psychopath Boot Camp Instructor, or a soft-spoken Yoga/Pilates class leader is easy…because it’s not who I am…but sharing words from the heart, mind and soul is revealing. At least it can be if one is brave and crazy enough to do it.
I recall attending one of my first coffee shop gatherings hosted by a bookstore with author Bonnie Friedman in 1994. It was one of the first times I wrote with others, publicly. Writing was something I most always did alone. Everyone read a bit of their writing that evening. I graciously declined. I felt exposed enough showing up at all. After all, I wasn’t a real writer. I was a bonafide closet writer. I dreamed the writing dream, but my writing remained hidden in the pages of my journal. It would be years before I slowly started, “coming out” of my lonely little writing circle of one. But, out I came…
On a side note I was not afraid to approach the author and talk with her for a moment (and show her my journal, nerd that I am), as I had so enjoyed my out-of-the-closet writing time. I grabbed her book Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction, and Other Dilemmas in the Writer’s Life and her signature, as the small group disbanded.
Oh, and I finally, am over my fear of reading my words in public…mostly. I think Bonnie would be happy I’ve learned to share my treasures…and encourage others to do likewise!
Here is part of what I read that day, as each author/writer had the opportunity to read their words, on the topic “Why I Write” :
1924 Olympian Eric Liddell once said about his running,
“God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
Well that sums up pretty well, my feeling about my writing.
When I write I feel God’s pleasure!
Why do I write?
I write to connect with myself, God, others.
I write to find myself, to lose myself, to discover who I am, what I believe and what I don’t believe.
I write to heal, and I write when I’m hurting. I write when I am happy.
I write from the part of me that wants to live forever.
I write to stay awake to life…I don’t want to sleep. I write because I want to keep a piece of now, I want to take hold of today.
Writing clarifies my thoughts, focuses my mind and gives my heart a voice.
Writing allows me to kick fear to the curb. It reminds me that, I have a voice, and my voice matters.
Writing, is life affirming.
Writing is the ultimate “Yes, I can…and I will!”
In closing I’d like to share this thought by Martin Luther King Junior,
“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”
For your journal:
Why do you write?
Reflect on Eric Liddels’s quote and journal your thoughts.
What activity can you think of that you do that gives you joy?
What treasures remain hidden within YOU? Brainstorm a list of Treasure Possibilities to explore.
Have you ever read your writing out loud to yourself or in front of another? In a group? Why or why not?
*Would you ever participate in a Journaling Workshop or Writer’s Group? If so, what would you want to do, address, learn?
This post is part of the The Journal Keeper’s Journey: Journaling as a Lifestyle Series. Stay tuned for more in the days ahead