Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – February 18, 2004
Taking A Risk
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – February 18, 2004 – I had lunch today with my friend Jackie. We’ve known each for over twenty years, and in that time we’ve shared the pain of broken hearts and the joy of mended hearts, career changes, marriage (hers), children (hers), moving houses and long talks about what we might do if we ever grow up.
We have gone through long periods when we hardly saw one another and times when we saw each other more regularly. But through the years we have remained friends. She is funny, bright, accomplished, a good friend, a good listener and a discreet confidante. I don’t always agree with her, but I trust her.
So today as I left for our lunch date I took my writing file with me. On the last day of 2003, I made this commitment to my long suppressed creative self, to write and now that it’s mid-February I have a collection of 50 daily stories. By the end of the year I hope to have 365 entries – 367 actually because it’s leap year and I wrote the first story on the 31st of December. Some are a few pages long – others are shorter. What does this mean to me? Well, it suggests that I have something to say or at least I think I do.
My voice wants to be heard. My creative energy needs to be released. I’m very safe as long as I just write these missives, save them in my computer and forget about them. I’ve created them and I know where they are. Tucked securely “away”.
Little terrors rear their ugly heads when I think of letting anyone else read them. It’s seems like a violation of my mind – an intrusion into my soul. I’m afraid to share this way. I’m afraid that my work is not good. I’m afraid if someone says “so what” that my heart will buckle and I will stop. My creative cry will revert to a whisper and my voice will be silenced. Is it enough to write for myself? I shyly admit what I know in my heart to be true. I want to be heard. When I got to the café I had second thoughts and almost left my file in the car.
Instead I took a deep breath, picked it up from the seat and took it inside. We got caught up on each other’s lives over lunch but it was soon the moment of truth. I could open my file and share what it contained or I could leave it sitting on the table. I could remain closeted and safe or I could take a risk. I chose the latter. I told Jackie that I wanted her to read some of the entries because I knew she would be honest with me. I picked the entry on ‘menopause’ – because it is near and dear to my heart.
I passed the pages across the table to her and she started to read. A few moments later she burst out laughing. That sound was like music to my ears. Something I had written had touched a chord in another human being. I know she is my friend, but it wasn’t a mercy laugh. It was genuine, open and from the heart. I wasn’t ready to let her pick out the entries she wanted to read from January’s index – after all I’m new at this – so I selected four or five others. She liked some more than others – as do I – but she read them with interest and offered sincere thoughts on their strengths and weaknesses.
As our available time together over lunch drew to an end, she said to me. “You have a gift. You need to pursue this. It is time to stop hiding You need to submit some of these to a women’s magazine”. I’m not sure that I’m ready to go down that path just yet – but I took, what was for me, an enormous risk and shared my writing with another person. I survived to tell the tail. The worst that could happen – didn’t.
I am heartened. I will persevere. I am grateful for Jackie’s enthusiasm and thankful for little courages. I have not been laid low – I will live to write another day!