Writing is Daring Greatly (thanks Brene Brown)

Dear Reader—Tomorrow night is my debut as a published writer—my first reading of a piece of writing that is actually in a book.  Not on a blog, not off my printer, but there on the printed page amongst other pieces in a collection of published writing.
Pretty sweet. I have to say that it is about damn time considering I’m closing in rapidly on the big  Five Oh (mere months away) and considering I’ve wanted to be a writer for, oh, all of my life. So what conspired to keep me silent and unpublished all these years?
Fear. Fear of being known, of being vulnerable, of being reviled. Shame. The certainty that what I had to say didn’t mean anything to anyone else. The terror that what I thought made no sense to anyone else. Scared that if I committed the thoughts in my head to paper that I would be forever judged by what I wrote down, by the ink stains.
So, what changed? What enabled me to throw caution to the wind, to finally put pen to paper and let the world in on my innermost thoughts? Fear. Ha! How’s that for irony? But seriously, the fear that I might never realize my dream of being a writer impelled me to write.
What if suddenly I were unable to write tomorrow? What if I’d played it safe all these years, thinking I had unlimited time ahead in which to overcome my fears slowly, always confident there would be time later to pen my memoirs, and suddenly I found myself incapacitated? I’d be pissed—angry that my fear of vulnerability, the shame of being thought less of had kept me from sharing my most authentic self.
I didn’t write for so many years because I thought that a) I would be laughed at or, more likely, told my ideas were heretical and would ultimately land me in hell (seriously) or b) I didn’t think I had anything worthwhile to say, that my ideas weren’t universal enough to catch on with anyone outside of my own head.
I realized, in small, baby steps, however, that people did listen when I read, my words did resonate, and slowly, I found a writing community, a group of other writers to cheer me on and for whom I could root. As Cheryl Strayed told us at the Wild Mt. Memoir retreat a couple of weeks ago, we should write from a place of abundance, that is sharing our joy and passion with other writers and cheering them on because there is plenty to go around.
I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown lately, and if you haven’t had a chance to catch one of her TED lectures, caught her with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday or read one of her books, make the effort. She’s got some amazing research to share, some great life lessons about living with vulnerability, abundance, and passion.
So, tomorrow. That’s it. Tomorrow I lay myself bare in front of complete and total strangers. Wow. That’s daring. Greatly.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Well, Dear Readers, last week I got my check for the essay I wrote which is included in the soon-to-be-published anthology from Seal Press: Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions. I made a copy of that check (not for fraud, but for posterity) and finally cashed it this morning.  I saved one of the dollars, which I fully intend to enshrine on my mantel.
And, if that weren’t exciting enough (!) today I also learned that on April 28 @ 4 p.m. I will be part of an event at Village Books celebrating the anthology’s publication.  So, Save The Date! Come and join the party!  I will post more details as I learn them. 
I cannot wait to read all of the stories in the collection, and I just have to say that I am astounded and humbled to be included with the likes of Kyria Abrahams, Lucia Greenhouse, Donna M. Johnson, Mary Johnson, and Julia Scheeres, writers whose works I’ve admired and desired to emulate. 
When I submitted my story for consideration, I had no idea what an amazing collection this would turn out to be, nor do I think I even actually believed the whole project would come to fruition.  Thanks to the hard work of editors Cami Ostman and Susan Tive, the dream became reality.
A word about community—none of this would have happened without the amazing support of my writing buddies, my writing group, or my longtime friend, mentor, and altogether wonderful person, Laura Kalpakian, all of whom nourished me with superior feedback and excellent friendship. I have found a rich and fertile writing community for which I am eternally grateful.
Most critically, I’ve had the love and support of The Little Woman, who has given me the space and support to pursue writing.  She’s often a writing group widow and her complaints are few. I know she believes in me. Nothing matters more.
I realize this all sounds like I just won the freaking Pulitzer, and really, that’s how I feel. Like I just won the freaking Pulitzer.
Thanks too, to my family, the members of which have provided me with a lifetime supply of most excellent material.