Day 2062 – Day 2070
A few weeks ago, I entered a literary writing contest. It was the first piece of writing that I’ve submitted to a contest or, well, anything, since the Modern-Day Monsters playwright’s competition that devastated me with reader’s comments that questioned my mental health. The reader didn’t seem to consider that a play is not always written in a straight-ahead manner. Dark comedies are usually pretty dark because the envelope has to be pushed to the edge of comfort to make an audience laugh.
I procrastinated. I knew that there was a deadline looming but I procrastinated. I was just editing an old piece of writing, I reasoned. How difficult could it be? And then, it was the day of the deadline and I had not even looked at the old piece. A friend used it to teach creative non -fiction at a University level, so it must have been fairly reasonably written. Unless, I panicked, it had been chosen as an example of what NOT to do when writing non-fiction.
The self-doubt didn’t stop there. This was, after all, the top literary contest in Canada. The expectation was that works would be ‘literary.’ I took my piece and pimped it up, adding metaphor and imagery that had been lacking in the original. I cringe now, thinking of how I may have ruined a sparse piece of writing with hackneyed metaphors just to be more of what I perceive to be ‘literary.’ I’m not a fan, but Hemingway did a pretty good job with writing that was sparse.
A couple of weeks later, another friend was running a writer’s workshop that used lines of poetry as a kickoff for timed writing. We had to read our works to the rest of the group and I felt a little nervous to share with all these women I did not know. I had written bravely, from the gut, and it was not comfortable for me to lay out my innards for all to see and then recoil them back when I was done, without the benefit of feedback. I didn’t like that, and I’m not sure what to make of that. I think I would prefer to either workshop a piece or write bravely and keep it for myself. Exhibitionism of one’s soul without validation of being ‘seen and heard’ just seemed to push all kinds of buttons on old childhood wounds. I can be grateful for the takeaway that I have some work to do around my ego and my writing.
I don’t like the way I pimped up my old piece. Maybe I’m not a literary writer. And maybe that’s okay. I’d like to think that what I am is a brave writer who writes brave words and if even one reader is moved by my writing, then I have done my job. We have made a connection, through time and space, that is meaningful. Literary or not, that is art.
I’m finding myself in a place in life, or maybe just in this weird global pause where untrue words and frivolous use of my talent does not sit well with me. I try not to get too heavy on my YouTube channel, but I have some pretty heavy things I want to address. Maybe that’s just me. Nobody ever called me shallow.
This week I reached out to someone with an email that, were I to receive it, would feel pretty intense. I wondered why I was writing it and there were really two reasons. Firstly, in the writing, a small miracle was worked in my heart and something with which I have struggled just seemed to lay itself out in perfect clarity for me. And, in laying that out, I have said the most important things one person can say to another. It wasn’t a love letter in the traditional billet-doux fashion, but it was a letter that was filled with love. It could have been shorter, but it could have been longer, too. What needed to be said has been said, and what it does in the heart of the receiver is out of my hands. They were brave words.
I’m grateful for this gift I have to put one word in front of the other. I’ve always known that it is probably my mightiest tool if I choose to use brave words to convey something that is truth. Is there absolute truth? I don’t know, but I do believe so. I also think we all know when someone is communicating from a place of truth, and I’m grateful for those moments when I can do so. I’m also grateful that a good portion of what I write hits that chord.
I think that in days to come we will all be called to bear witness to the truth. I am grateful that I have several people in my life who I believe will stand alongside me and utter brave words to a world that has fallen deaf.
I’ve been sick for most of this month of quarantine and I wish I had another month to use each day to do the things that are meaningful and that matter. I don’t know what will come but this pause has affirmed that there is purpose in this gift of words that has been given to me.
I wonder how others have been re-evaluating their lives, under lockdown.