It feels fitting to write a letter reflecting on living a write year. (Isn’t that punny?) I just read two blog posts about my OLW20: write.
First, Hello 2020, chronicles the way this word barged into my life. I wrote these lines:
There were many years when I invited write into my life, thinking it would be a perfect fit. It always declined my invitation, slipping out of my grasp. Yet, here it was, knocking again and I laughed, proving I’m more cynical than I like to be.
I chuckled when I read the line about being more cynical than I like to be. It was the reality of the situation. I had been in conversation with an editor about “the next book,” and I decided to walk away from the project. I knew I would soon become the editor of Choice Literacy, and it would take a lot of my attention and creative energy.
One the heels of the decision to not write another professional book, write comes knocking.
The next post I read was written in March after more than two months of being silent on the blog. Here, I refer to my word as a brat. It was relentless. Demanding. Insistent. It felt like a cruel joke.
Yet, I faced the post box, and I wrote.
A few weeks later I wrote My Roots are Here. As I read it today, it rings true. Genuine. Real. Authentic. Honest.
On April 1, I threw an SOS into the world.
The process of sending an SOS and expecting to find magic through Story strengthened my roots. Then something unexpected happened: I began to grow new wings. These wings are so sturdy that it is impossible for them to be new in the sense of infancy. Rather, they are aged and nourished. They are new in their reveal.
I realized that my truth for the word write was quiet and whimsical. Although life has some hard and dark storylines, what I discovered was these hard stories do not need to overshadow whimsy. I found the need to write the dark storyline of our daughter Stephanie so that I could leave the story on the page. I learned that it is okay for a weary heart to seek magic.
In the summer, I studied memoir and fell in love with the genre. I learned to unfold stories with whimsy and wisdom. I learned to tell my most precious stories, the ones full of delight, and found that they were not lies. I learned to capture the smallest bits of life and honor them as authentically whole, even as I stepped along gnarled and twisted storylines. My writing became small; I began desiring less.
I thought it odd that as I lived the word write, I became less of a writer. It is true that I thought this, but I am no longer sure that the thought, I am less of a writer, is true. I am not the writer that I thought I was supposed to become.
I am, perhaps, exactly the writer I am to be.
More importantly, living write allowed me to encourage and uplift others as writers. One of my favorite parts of the life I live is that I get to uplift others’ voices. I edit writing. I have revision conversations. I organize writing groups. I nudge writers. I send texts with writing invitations. I offer topic suggestions. I leave comments on blog posts. I drop notes in the mail. I write social media posts highlighting the writing work of others.
I’m not sure I would have realized the value and importance of this work if write didn’t insist on intruding in my life in 2020. I am sure, that if write weren’t my companion, I would have ended 2020 a non-writer.
I close this letter with these reminders:
- Story saves.
- Writing always gives more than it takes.
- Being a person to encourage writing is as worthwhile as stacking words on the page.
Enjoy your new wings,
Won’t you join us?