“I sure hope you write today,” said the text from my friend, and a wave of guilt washed over me, an emotion I am sure she never dreamed her quick message might summon.
I AM a writer. Since my earliest memories, I have loved writing. As a child, I created short story after short story. In high school and college, I thrived on drafting, writing, editing, and rewriting essays. Today, I make lists. I journal. I send letters. I post on Facebook. I leave Post-it notes with affirmations for students or colleagues. I write editorials on occasion. I send motivational emails. For years, I have taught young adults to write, often challenging even the best writers to write better. Why wouldn’t someone who believed in my ability urge me to write?
I AM a writer, so why did the invitation to participate in a public sharing of ideas excite me – inspire me – but panic me – fill me with fear? Weeks before, I had jumped at the opportunity to join fellow writers, quickly saying yes to a writing project in a public forum. My friend’s words carried a positive intention; she meant to encourage me to share my words with the world. Little did she know my emotional response was deeply rooted in my own decades-long fear of rejection. What if my words didn’t make sense? What if my thoughts rambled? What if no one read my heart’s message?
For years, students, colleagues, and family have encouraged me to write – to share my stories – to mentor through the written word. Emilee occasionally asks me how my book is coming along. Laurel, often in the middle of our conversations, exclaims, “You need to write!” Darvoni even asks when I’m going to produce my TedTalk. The invitation to join an online group of writers vulnerable enough to share their craft came at the right time, right at the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic when I found myself with a more flexible schedule, and still I found myself overthinking the format of the blog, making excuses to not step fully into the project, to protect myself from opinions of others.
Ruth’s five simple words “I hope you write today” echoed those of one of my favorite fictional teachers, Miss Pointy. In Sahara Special, this brilliant teacher simply pens “Writers write” in Sahara’s writer’s notebook. Through the relationship between Miss Pointy and Sahara, a fifth grader struggling with her own abandonment issues created by her parents’ divorce, readers watch Miss Pointy masterfully nurture Sahara as a writer, as a student, as a human. With patience, Miss Pointy grows this young writer’s confidence, and in the end, Sahara realizes writers do write.
Like everyone else on this planet, sometimes, all I need is a little nudge; a few words often carry more weight than the writer intended. Sometimes, all I need is the patient observations of someone who believes in me. Sometimes, all I need is to just begin.
After all, I AM a writer, and writers write. #sosmagic
I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us.