Vulnerability is not my favorite thing. Actually, it’s terrifying. But darn it if authentic experiences and feelings don’t make good books. The vulnerable memoirs are my favorite, so of course mine have to be. Doesn’t mean it gets easier. But it has been rewarding.
For a socially awkward introvert such as myself, it’s easier to pretend the crowds aren’t there. That doesn’t work as well when the audience cracks up at something I say that might be slightly funny. But I smile and press on.
I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t believe I had anything important to say. The thing is, the topics I write about – religious skepticism, feminism, rape – are unpopular for a reason. They are too commonly misunderstood, too “controversial,” and yes, too personal. Silence doesn’t have a good track record of making change happen, though. I want to see a world that is kinder to victims of violence, more understanding of people to whom faith does not come easily. I can’t do this any other way than by writing about it.
I applied for grad school with an understanding that I would not only learn how to be a better writer, but to pick at the threads of my work-in-progress memoir with a fine tooth comb. A classroom full of beta readers is the best thing I could ask for. Clearly, I’m in it more for the writing than for friendships, yet friendships are happening anyway, and I’m blown away. I’m horrible at accepting compliments, but am humbled just the same. The ability to publish and share my work is a privilege, but to have peers respond in a positive way is something else.
I’m not so concerned anymore about being the girl who always writes content that makes people a little uncomfortable. That’s not the avenue I dreamed of taking, but I sort of fell into it through a series of unexpected events, and that’s what it will be.
The following clip is from a live reading sponsored by students from the MFA program at Colorado State. My stubborn phone wouldn’t let me upload the entire thing. The full clip is available on my Facebook page (if you want to give the page a ‘like’ while you’re at it, I wouldn’t mind. Just sayin’).