Here is the scene:
I am restless. The chairs are hard and uncomfortable. I am surrounded by other pupils, and we are attentive, but I know we’re all mentally going through the list of school and work-related things we need to tackle after this. The list is never-ending. I stifle a lingering yawn and try to sit up a little straighter.
The guest speaker asks the group of students a question:
“Are any of you writers?”
Oh no. Several pairs of eyes shift in my direction. Someone raises an eyebrow, prompting. You traitors.
I nod. I raise my hand about halfway. He asks what my book is called.
“Um…it’s called Into the Wreckage.”
It took a lot to say that. I mean, the title is so simple, unassuming, not weird: Into the Wreckage.
He asks another question. What’s the book about?
“It’s like, it’s about this girl living off the coast of Maine and her experiences growing up…and there’s sort of some complicated family history between her family and another family that she doesn’t know about at first…um, Do I have to keep talking about this?”
He laughs and lets me off the hook. He tells me that it’s great I’m a writer, and to take pride in sharing that because it’s a huge deal. He tells me he wants to buy a copy of my book when it comes out. He probably doesn’t remember my name. But if the author of my book is “Shy Redhead from the Seminar Who Blushes Easily,” then we’re golden. He’ll remember who I am.
since the thing perhaps is
to eat flowers and not to be afraid
- E.E. Cummings
There’s still a lot of anonymity to this whole process of blogging. I type, type, type behind my screen, hit publish, and that’s it. There’s safety in that. There’s specifically NOT HAVING TO TALK OUT LOUD TO ANYONE in that.
I want to talk about my writing, not just write about it. I want the words to soar from me with self-assurance and pride. I want to feel like I can answer so what do you do? and other small talk questions by including that I’m a writer in addition to the other things I currently am. Because I am a writer. I don’t address it as a bragging right, because it’s not; I don’t feel that way about it. But I am proud of myself for writing. It’s been a passion of mine all my life. There’s no escaping it, really, even if I wanted to.
There’s not anything embarrassing or scary about talking about my book – it’s a pretty straightforward family saga/commercial fiction with a few twists along the way. But even if it was something far more difficult to talk about, I’d still like to develop the courage and confidence to speak of it. And for my face not to feel like it’s on fire while I do.
I write. And I must start to talk about it. I should be proud of my words, of myself. All of us who write should be.
(and we should also have group therapy sessions. because this business is hard, yo.)
I am a writer, I need to tell people.
I write of family and friendship. I am inspired by my family and friends, and therefore the things I love most about them and specific quirks and traits often end up in my books : mothers who bandage your scraped knees, grandparents who bake the most delicious cookies, friends who dive into adventures that are half-planned at best, pizza from the same place on Fridays, and good hugs. I believe my writing would lack emotional depth if I didn’t have such positive beings in my life who support me.
I write of feelings. Of happiness. Of anxiety. Of regret. Of fear. Or indifference. Of loss. Of (completely harmless) sarcasm. Of resilience. Of confidence. Of excitement. And of sadness. Beautiful, broken sadness.
I write of children. Of the magic that shimmers in the wreath of brown around their pupils. Of shoelaces that needed to be replaced months ago. Of referring to the goal posts in soccer as “lamp posts.” Of furniture gymnastics. The specific ways they eat food – nibbling little holes in bagels, saving the muffin top for last, trying their toast butter-side down (if you didn’t try your toast this way after reading The Butter Battle Book, you did your childhood all wrong). The things they fear. The things they love, so unreservedly. Of laughter that isn’t self-conscious.
I write of love, of all kinds: devotional, unrequited, complicated, selfish, passionate, foolish, the kind you feel wrapped up in everyday, the kind that feels like walking through a garden forever. Love exists and hooks itself up inside many definitions.
And I write of so many other things. Of hasty glances. Of cobwebbed corners. Of ballet. Of cheap alcohol. Of oceans. Of stained glass windows. Of washing the darks and lights together. Of shivering flowers trapped in a breeze. Of front doors with scars etched into the paint. Of forests. Of tangled necklaces. Of religion. Of the hush of a white, gray, and pale blue winter. Of curls and flyaway strands. Of book spines that have weakened and faded over time. Of swaddled twins. Of lanyards heavy with library keys. Of angels. Of second and third and fourth chances. Of the clumsiness that often exists in dreams.
The strength required in the journey that is writing cannot be understated. Talk and walk, walk and talk.
And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. – Erica Jong
So to speak of my writing – I will try.