Stepping Up

18 Mar

Once again it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Not only has life been really busy, but I haven’t had anything interesting to report. I haven’t stopped writing though: I joined a small group through my church dedicated to sharing our stories.

Our first assignment was to write about a time we felt powerless. I wrote a short piece about the first few days after Daniel was born. (I’m happy to share it in a separate post if anyone is interested.) The piece was [is?] very short, coming in at about 4 and a half pages, double spaced.

Our second assignment was to take our first story and relate it to one of a few larger themes. I chose: how does our powerlessness relate to and interact with our spirituality? We were to write longer, more in depth pieces, and two people would share each week. I was the last to get the sign up sheet and so I ended up being the first to share.

It was a complicated and difficult question to answer. The story started from before I was born, worked through my childhood and religious upbringing, then tackled the major crises in my life.

I started pouring them out in my journal and couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to miss an important one. I ended up scribbling until one in the morning. And yet I still never even touched on my depression and I didn’t cover all the issues. Exhausted, I put it aside anyway.

I waited a week to go back to it and start typing it up. To my shock and, frankly, horror, it was 8 pages. Single spaced. I sent a frantic and apologetic email. I didn’t know where to begin cutting it down but it seemed unwieldy now, my raw emotions and experiences spilling out over that many pages.

The minister kindly replied, “Wow! That was a story that needed to be told!” She said to maybe pare it down some, but not to worry too much about it.

And so I tinkered – and deleted – and edited – and edited – and edited some more. Still not satisfied but out of time, I printed it out and I shared it.

No one complained about the length. No one criticized the content. I laid my unweildy creation -and myself – out on the table (not literally!), and I was rewarded with acceptance and praise.

So now comes the stepping up. I love to write but I am paradoxically afraid of sharing. Every time I write a blog post, I quell the accompanying anxiety by assuring myself that the posts only go out to a small audience, and certainly not face to face.

Every month, I get an invite on Facebook to participate in South Side Story Club – a live performance of written pieces by accomplished authors, with open mic slots afterward.

Every month, I think to myself, “Wow, I’d love to do that. But I’m not good enough. I don’t have anything good to say.”

This month was different. This month I rsvp’d yes. This month (next Tuesday!), I will try to sign up for one of the open mic slots. And I will try to read without blushing, crying, or running away in sheer terror. I’m not afraid of the crowd – I’m afraid of not being good enough. Of not being as good as I like to think I am sometimes. Of not being funny enough, or interesting enough, or talented enough.

Further complicating things is I don’t know what to read. Not the spiritual piece – too personal and too long. Do I pick something I’ve written before? This months topic is Science – do I write something new in that vein? Or do I write a brand new piece entirely in the hope that it’s not perfect for a later months topic?

Time will probably end up making the decision for me. And I may not even get an open mic slot – I’ve never gone before so I don’t know how hard it is to get one. But no matter what, I will keep writing, keep sharing, and hope for the courage to be as good as I think I am.

I like to end with a picture or two so here you go:

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