I stood before them, fidgeting with the pen I still held in my hand, “Hi, my name is Susan.”
“Hi, Susan,” they all said in unison.
“I have a confession to make.” Curiosity lifted into the air above them, so high it bounced back down off the ceiling, making two or three attendees straighten themselves in their chairs. I took in a deep breath and set free the words from my mouth. “I’m a writer.”
Gentle laughter and applause erupted in the room. Welcoming smiles reflected back at me. Within seconds, I relaxed my stance and let out a sigh of relief.
You’d think after putting the pen down only yesterday afternoon, after writing 72,000 words over the past two months, that I’d need a break from writing today. You’d think I’d feel satisfied writing the first draft of what might become my first book, when as of three months ago, the longest complete story I’d ever written amounted to 500 words of flash fiction or perhaps 1500 words of personal essay.
And yet, I picked up the pen today.
Because I write. It’s what I love to do.
Because I am a writer.
Because I write.
I’ve no idea if this first pebble tossed in the pond will amount to anything. It’ll require a second draft, probably a third, and possibly many more after that to snap it into shape. It’s a true story, as true as any we are capable of spinning about our own lives, which means I’ll stew over which lens I wish to use to tell this story. My own lens has changed over time, which is a blessing because initially it was fiery red and edged in deep ocean blue. The combination was too dark, so dark that I could hardly see well enough to write objectively about what lay right before my eyes.
At this moment, the first draft has everything I want to say, everything I’ve dared to say–to others and to myself. I’ll treasure this first draft and keep it tucked away in raw form forever. It has been my personal therapy.
And then, I’ll work on the second draft. I’ll chop it up extensively, I’m quite sure. I’ll add to it as well. I’ll analyze it from every angle, consider its every message, seek out its every truth. And, from there, maybe–only maybe–will I share it with someone else. I’ll have to decide if it has enough substance to be of value to someone else.
It may not. I’m okay with that.
It was never about me proving I could write something lengthy, something with a focused story line, though I’m pleased I have.
It was never about speaking my truth to the world, so I might feel better about myself, though I do in fact feel better after writing it.
It was only about getting it all down on paper before my memory eluded me and all the important lessons were lost along the way. There’s plenty I’m still figuring out, by the way, thanks to the opportunity I’ve given myself to dig deeper than would have ever been possible had I just sat around and thought really hard.
It all started with telling a story, and deciding first and foremost between it being a tragedy or a hero’s journey. I chose the latter.