Sitting in writing class, we are handed our evening’s exercise to write dialogue. My mind goes blank. I close my eyes and lay my head on the desk while others around me begin to frantically scribble on their notebooks or type away on computer keyboards. Seconds pass, perhaps even minutes. The only dialogue is the one running through my head that begins to question my creativity and my motives. What are you doing in this class? I think about the question and soon themes begin to run through my head: Mother. Jonathon. Spiritual Journey. Authentic voice. They weave and interconnect with each other and morph into an amazing story.
Am I mad? Crazy? Self-absorbed to even consider writing this stuff? What if people read it and hate it? What if they don’t read it at all? Would that be worse?
Wait! my inner voice slows down the stampede of negative thoughts. Who are you writing for? What do you want? What do you need from this?
I need to tell the story – even if I don’t know what “the story” is. It’s writing itself by pouring out in splashes and spills – dribbling out through a sentence or two – a word of dialogue here or there.
Just keep writing, the muse says.
The bold inner critic pipes up: Who the heck do you think you are? No one wants to read your words. Heck, you can’t even string a reasonable sentence together.
Other voices chime in while the dust and chaos of the stampede builds. You gotta get it right. Be sure to cross all your t’s and dot your i’s. Punctuation counts. Be sure it’s all true. You don’t want to make anything up do you? People might find out you’re a fraud and a liar just like James Frey.
“But, but, but”, the stuttering child says. “I’m a good writer. Mrs. Craig said so.”
Yea, but that was in the fourth grade. You’re 52 years old now, more than ½ way toward the grave. Give it up, old girl.
It feels like the whole negative committee of my mind has circled up and threatens to push me over the precipice into the gulch of unfulfilled dreams. Give up. Give up. Give up. Give up.
I put my hands over my ears, squeeze my eyes tightly shut and begin to breathe deeply until a new voice enters the midst. “Thank you all for coming,” a calm woman sitting tall in the saddle appears, “but we won’t be needing your input today.”
I like this woman. She’s like Lucy all grown up. She is strong and kind. Her voice is like velvet and her words drift over the raucous committee like a gentle mist covering the valley of a fairy tale. The naysayers begin to lay down one by one. Sarcasm gives one last ditch effort before tumbling out of my mind, So you think you can do this thing, huh? Yea, right, she says weakly.
And then the velvet-voiced woman is joined by another and another and another as they all chime in with cheering and encouraging voices.
“Just keep writing! You are the Queen of this rodeo!!!”
collage by Kathy Otero - a gift from my husband