I’ve been a reader/writer for an online authors group for over 18 years. Its golden era has long passed but there are still enough contributions to stave off stagnation. This week, in a fit of nostalgia perhaps, I sat down and completed a long drabble in response to a challenge issued back in ’03. It was silly, flirty, and had just enough underlining angst to prevent tooth decay. It was mediocre at best but on a whim I decided to post it. Imagine my shock when, over the next 48 hours, I check my email to find an influx of responses to my 518 word prose. Comments of enjoyment, of having missed my inclusions during my absence. Messages from people I’ve never heard of, from established members that weren’t around for the site’s glory days, all expressing their like of this piece and the many before it that they are only now discovering.
I’m getting short notes and long emails, and they’re as flattering as they are depressing because I find myself missing this. The writing and the feedback, the back and forth chatter between burgeoning story tellers. The uncontrollable smile that breaks across my face when I’ve made a stranger laugh. The sudden jolt of power, and humbleness, at the knowledge that I can make a reader cry; make their lungs seize and their heart plummet to their shoes, all with just a few well placed words. The validation I feel when someone picks out my favorite sentence among concatenating paragraphs and says, “This one. This is the one I couldn’t get out of my head.”
Writing– it’s what lets me genuinely be able to wear a smile without first having to check the fit of it. It’s about abstracting barely-there thoughts, spinning syllables and measures until that magical moment when exposition finds consummation. In person I stutter, I hesitate, I jumble my words or forget them all together. I can be anxious and unresponsive, and often times non-sequitur in conversation. But that’s not who I am, at least not all that I am, and I tend to let myself forget that. I’m not always well-spoken but I am well-written, and that’s the voice I want to be remembered for. That’s the voice I want to protect and to strengthen.
So I’ll keep writing. Maybe not everyday or as often as I’d like, but I’ll keep at it.