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It’s tough to take a risk. They don’t call it breaking out of your comfort zone for nothing. When given the choice between sitting still or doing something, I tend to cuddle up on the cozy couch of life, mildly content to sit wrapped in the same old blankets while life whizzes by, a colorful blur streaked with other people’s successes.
For eight and a half years, I’ve blogged. I wrote in journals and diaries long before that, even as a child, to try to make sense of the life spinning around me. I scribbled sappy poems onto coffee-stained napkins at Denny’s when I was 18, waiting for my boyfriend’s server shift to end. I spilled my teenage guts onto lined paper, words I cringe over now when I read what I once deemed worthy of attention. But, throughout the years, I’ve hesitated to call myself “a writer.”
Last summer I began to wonder if I had a book in me. It’s a silly thing to ponder, really. We all have stories to tell. But would I ever be bold enough to tell mine?
Not long after, I learned about an upcoming workshop at Gemini Ink on writing memoir. Best-selling New York Times author Beverly Donofrio (Riding in Cars with Boys, Looking for Mary, Astonished) would lead it. I’d just heard Donofrio on an NPR segment about her latest book, the story of how, at 55, she was raped, and how she began to heal. Donofrio’s honesty and willingness to write about her life spurred me into action. I leaped off that couch and I registered.
For the five minutes it took me to sign up, I felt brave, worthy, completely unafraid. But, soon after, fear and my inner critic bubbled up. Was I a writer? Should I take this class? Would the attendees think me an impostor when they heard what I wrote? Who did I think I was?
I grabbed a corner of that stupid, cozy blanket and shoved it in my critic’s mouth. As afraid as I was, something else inside said, Go. You are worthy.
Yesterday, I met 17 incredible woman, all with touching, inspiring, momentous stories to tell. I wrote some of my story. I shared it. I teared up a time or two (over my own words as much as the words of the others). The room at Gemini Ink was filled with daring women, each one boldly claiming her story.
I can’t just sit on that couch any longer.