We gather around the dining room table, our small, intimate writers group. Sipping tea and coffee, and snacking on popcorn, each of us takes a turn to share our current work. We listen first to a fellow writer read an excerpt from her manuscript, a memoir. Slowly, carefully, she paints a picture with her words. A discussion follows.
Clearing my throat, I take my turn next. I read confidently. My ear catches my recent edits and I note the improved story flow. Nearly finished with the passage, I had almost forgotten that the words were about me. Just as my inner voice is ready to congratulate me on my amazing self-control, my heart betrays me, reminding me of the hurt.
My voice cracks and the deep breath meant to regulate my emotions becomes a gasping
sigh . . . I’ve lost control and I cry. There is silence as I regain my composure and finish the passage.
I hate that I cried. Looking up from my words I tell everyone “I’m fine, really.” They look at me, teary-eyed too, and assure me that it’s okay. We talk about the way in which words can move us, even when they are our own.
Driving home I think about my writing. I wonder why it is that I can share details of my personal life on social media with confidence. And yet, in the company of my fellow writers, people I love, admire and trust, I have to muster up courage to read my words aloud. I am so brave when I cannot be seen. This is true of my relationships as well . . . I resist the ‘face to face’ to express my feelings, needs and wants. And why? Because I might cry? Might be judged or rejected? Growth and change are not possible without a little pain. My writing won’t get any better and neither will my relationships if I avoid the hard parts.
Note to self . . . Be brave with your words and deeds, face to face.
Ps Thank you writer friends for allowing me practice with you