Recently, I started exploring a dark thing that happened in my childhood through my writing and got so scared I stopped. Even though I was fictionalizing this event, emotionally, it was the exact thing that happened to me.
I was frozen, in fear.
Then I thought, “What if I actually told the truth in my pages? What if I wrote down my deepest pain, my most terrifying fears, the truth about what happened?”
What if I walked into that gaping maw of darkness and took notes, paid attention, put it all down on the page?
As writers, we are constantly pulling from our own experience. And the temptation is sometimes to “pretty” it up. But what if we were willing to describe on the page the way the blood looked, or his face as he screamed that we were “nothing,” or the sound of the car as it drove away forever, tail pipe dragging?
What if we weren’t afraid of what people might think of us? So terrified that if they knew we had all this stuff inside, they would surely run the other way?
What if we took these real things and wrote them down? Either as part of our own story, or as part of a made up tale, with characters who can carry the events for us?
What if we told the truth?
In my emotionally frozen state, I was really unable to return to my pages. But this quote from Stephen King got me working again…
“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
Take Action! Could you imagine an understanding reader? A person out there in the world, just like you, waiting to hear the secrets of your heart, not with judgment, but with love? Could you be brave enough to pick up your pen, or open your computer and stop bullshitting around?
What if your pages were searing and real, not just a smokescreen we can smell a mile away?
Could you be vulnerable, and in so doing, be incredibly brave?
Trust me. If you are afraid in your writing, you are afraid in your life.
Could you drop the mask?
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