I’m a writer. That’s what I tell people.
I love words. I write for pleasure, and I write with purpose. I write to share my heart and to open the hearts of others. I have a dream that one day I’ll write a bestseller that will captivate the world. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, but I’m not sure I’m not, either. Until I get comfortable with the idea, I’ve taken to writing short articles. I have to start somewhere, right?
I’ve sat down a hundred times, fingers poised over my keyboard, ready to write something brilliant that will connect me to my audience and finally get these thoughts out of my mind and into the world. I’ve typed that article enthusiastically, painstakingly reading and rereading it. I’ve completed nearly a hundred such pieces. Then I’ve pressed “save” and let each one sit, unloved, in a lonely file on my computer forever and ever, amen.
I know I can write. Acquaintances I see at parties open meaningful conversations about some casual update I’ve posted on social media and tell me how interesting and well-written they found my status update. I find this amusing, but I’m always proud. Clients tell me they love our practice newsletter and open it every month to read my musings on life, health, and our clinic dog.
Sometimes I’m even bewitched by my own command of words, and yet those hundred articles stay quietly imprisoned in their lonely file, waiting for their moment to come.
And it never does.
So why do I bother to carve out time to commit my thoughts to paper (or screen)?
What bubbles inside me is so potent that it’s desperate to get out. For many years, I’ve been doing the work. I’ve faced the challenges, learned the lessons, gained the wisdom. As so many of us have by mid-life, I’ve worked out a thing or two.
My experience tells me that most people yearn for a deeper understanding of themselves.
One of my skills is translating the myriad of difficult feelings and thoughts that come with being a human into plain English. Another of my talents is sharing vulnerable bits of my own experience. I’ve been to some dark places, and I’ve sat with some murky parts of my own being.
When I share, I share from my heart. I’m not afraid to wander into the dark so I can return to recount what I’ve done or who I’ve been. As a chronic oversharer, I’ve opened the doorway for others to tell me their shocking secrets many times. Through this, I’ve seen how we are all the same.
I’ve lost the fear of being judged. This story cannot be any more shocking than the last. And so I crawl down again into the labyrinth of me to retrieve some shining jewel that might be familiar to you—one that you might turn away from in yourself. For me, writing is a prayer that we might all open our eyes and our hearts to what it is we are trying so hard not to see.
When I write, what I want to tell you is important. The possibility that I might use my unique talents to make a difference in people’s lives is compelling. The thought that I could write a book or make a living from doing something that I love so much fills my whole body with excitement. It’s like the feeling of falling in love.
Why, then, do I keep those articles so safely quarantined from the world?
The truth is, I am terrified of the power of my gifts.
My story goes like this: if I keep my writing hidden, I can never fail. If I don’t allow others to see my ambition, no one will ever reflect back to me that I could be more than I am.
The feelings that fill me when I think about writing and in particular, about sharing my writing are loaded. They’re loaded with happiness—bliss, even. They’re feelings of fulfilment, recognition, and value.
In my body, those feelings generate “butterflies in my stomach.” These particular butterflies have giant wings that flap wildly and tickle my insides. There’s so much pleasure that comes with those thoughts and feelings that I’m unsure whether I can handle it. So, I write each article—combing the text and meticulously editing for clarity and meaning, tone and humour—and then I lock it safely in its file with all the others.
Maybe this one will fare differently.
To date, the story of each of my articles shares a common ending. Locked in a computer file, the end. It’s not very poetic, is it? If I want a more satisfying ending for my readers, I am going to have to change the direction of the story. If I truly want to engage my audience, it’s going to be important to give them something to chew on. Something. Anything. Just not nothing.
I’m a writer. I have one published article.