Writing words on paper is easy. Finding the “right words” takes much thought, but mostly courage. I’m not talking about the courage to “rant” about an issue or people. Who cares, really? Gossip is cheap. It’s the words that lift you and your readers up like a powerful wind in the sails of a ship that have lasting value. It’s the words you can’t forget because in some small, but huge way they have changed your life, or at least added some incredible insight.
When you think about some of the really great writers, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, why do we still read their words, and you should, if you want to call yourself a true writer. For me, their words have filled my mind with images beyond my wildest dreams of places I would love to go, and my heart with the inspiration to get there. The mind and heart is its own combined universe that knows no boundaries. Imagine that! Yes, these writers struggled. Their “right words” did not come easy. But, it was more than the words that mattered to them. It was finding their own “voice,” to reach out, to give something to others despite the fears that daily tormented them or the unspeakable joys that touched their hearts for only brief moments and then disappeared like a setting sun.
I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” I believe in “writer’s fear.” To be so afraid to write what is truly in your heart that your grip your desk and cry tears of mourning for your words you need to say….is “fear.” Fear is the anchor that will try your soul. Believe me, I know. When I received the galleys of my first book (yes, this is the way we use to proofread books we wrote) I was on top of the world. My parents happened to be visiting during this time, and I was so excited to show my father my book that was about to be published. At last, I thought, I would get his approval that I had desired my whole life. He began to read the first paragraph. He stopped. Then, he said: “Did you have all your marbles when you wrote this?” I was stunned. It was as if he had taken a gun and shot me through the heart. My heart was shattered.
My book was published. The marketing buzz had begun. I was to be on the “Today Show.” So, I pondered, what to do this time, with my mother. Should I risk telling her? The thought now, seems ridiculous, right? Parents should be proud of their kids. Well, I told her and then she said: “Well, don’t get a big head!” My heart sank again. Imagine going on television in front of millions of people with that send off!
My parents are not cruel people. They have loved me my whole life. But, regarding my writing…well, this is something they have never really understood. Sometimes, out of great sorrow, if we can rise above our fears, the right words will come, and they will give life to others to find their voice. Perhaps, this is reason enough to keep on writing.