Writing in the World Together
I open the package and find Ann's words— these words that stole so many hours, so they could become gifts to others.
These are not just the words of a stranger, these hard-wrought words. They are the words of a friend. I know how hard they were to put down, to pull out. And I'm not talking about the effort of craft (which seems so effortless to me when I watch her do her thing). I'm talking about the effort of laying out the heart bare.
It is a strange thing to put our hearts in a book and see that book travel on. It is a sacrifice, this writer's life— if we write true. Because someone is going to say something or even simply ignore us. And a thousand beautiful compliments can be so easily wiped away with one dour response. Likewise, a thousand beautiful compliments can fool us into thinking we are not who we really are.
This is why we must write in the world together. A cord of three strands (or more) is not quickly broken.
I always wished I could have what the "great writers" had. Shaw had L'Engle. Lewis had Tolkien. Just friends, you see, to be there before and after and during the words. To see the heart that went in. To know the heart that is also outside the words.
In some ways, the online community is just that. My L'Engle. My Tolkien. And for today, on the table, my Ann. And so many days, my you.
Writing is not, cannot be, the solitary thing it's made out to be. Maybe this is true of any art, of anywhere we dare to put our hearts.