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Public Indecency

Flasher-in-a-mac-001I’ve heard people say that  writing is like going naked in public. If you write from the heart and are completely truthful, you are also completely exposing yourself. And even though my husband sometimes jokes that I have nudist tendencies, I really don’t.

Exposing my most private thoughts and experiences is incredibly scary. And yet, I still feel compelled to do so.

My need doesn’t come from my ego but rather from my heart. I have a deep-seated desire to make people think.

I won’t lie. Sometimes I fear how my words will be interpreted or that some people will twist them to meet their own needs. And sometimes they do.  But, instead of worrying about the critics, I try to focus on all the people who express their appreciation that I am speaking up. And, ever once in a while, the power of my own voice surprises me.

Yesterday, I was talking to Angela, the mother of one of my son’s former classmates. She asked how Shepherd likes attending a brand new (as in newly constructed) high school.

I said he’s very happy, but that there are challenges in trying to establish all new programs, including music and sports. We joked about the football team, and I asked if she had seen a letter to the editor in our local newspaper.

In it, a parent complained that students in the northern end of the county got a brand new school when the students at Martinsburg High School should have one. Her reasoning was that the Martinsburg students deserve a new school because of their championship football and basketball teams.

Angela and I laughed about priorities, but then she said something that took me off guard.

“You are such a good writer, you should write a letter in response.”

I wasn’t just surprised that she knows I write. I was surprised that she thought my words are powerful enough to make a difference.

Instead of acknowledging those thoughts, I simply laughed and said, “That wouldn’t be worth the time.”

She agreed, and our conversation drifted. But my own words stayed with me.

I hadn’t said that writing such a letter wouldn’t be worth my time, I’d said the time. At some point during my journey as a writer, I stopped thinking about my blog as an individual activity and one that involves a community – other writers, readers, friends and colleagues. And in doing so, I also realized I’m not as alone or exposed as I felt when I first started writing.

And for that, I am very grateful.