On Friday, November 30th at 4:00 pm EST, I pushed send on a 52,469-word memoir to a professional editor in New York City. This not-so-simple act has officially made me a writer. I think.
For the past decade or so, my mother’s persistent voice in my ear has been saying that I should be a writer. As daughters do, I politely thanked her and ignored her at the same time, content to continue on my path as a non-profit leader. I know she meant well, but I did not see what she saw, as is usually the case with mothers and daughters. Our turbulent years navigating the back-and-forth of mother-daughter politics did not lend itself to me taking her very seriously.
But, perhaps it is time to appreciate the wisdom of mothers.
In the memoir, Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora Neale Hurston writes “. . the force from somewhere in Space which commands you to write in the first place, gives you no choice. You take up the pen when you are told and write what is commanded. There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.”
I cherish these words as I grapple with the sheer audacity of putting my own story down on paper. For the past two months, I have poured the rawest, most vulnerable parts of myself onto the page in an attempt to redefine myself, personally and professionally. It was a deeply profound experience. There were tears, laughs and flashes of rage and shame. For eight days straight, I wrote in my pajamas, emerging only to eat, ironically hiding from the world to which I hope to present myself when it is done.
The writing ground is still shaky beneath my feet. I haven’t quite figured out what will steady me. My days lack shape or form. My work spaces go by the names “bibliotheques” or my bed. At times, I think that this is what a Gen X midlife crisis looks like and only binge-watching old episodes of ER on Hulu can cure me.
I am terrified.
But, I will trust a mother’s intuition and believe that I am in exactly the right place doing the exact right thing. Here’s to all of you willing to come to the edge.