This morning I woke up to an interview with Glennon Doyle about the genesis of her blog. She began writing, she said, because she was “dying for a place to tell the truth.”
She talked about the long missives she would send her friends, the way her story was spilling out of her. I kept nodding, yes, yes. My friends are still on the receiving end of of similar rants, although perhaps not as long anymore. I’d like to say that this is because I am writing a book, but that’s not necessarily true either. Writing, as I have learned, isn’t about pouring your story onto the page. It’s as much about curation and craft as it is anything else. Finding connections. Truth, I have discovered, often lies between the lines.
I met someone recently for coffee (okay, bad juice in an empty cafe) who encouraged to me pour out my unabridged version; realities and feelings tumbling out in ways that I will never be able to put my name to. She then talked about her life and as I listened, a shared reality began to emerge. This isn’t just my story. This is hers too. And I know there are more out there like us – too-much women grappling with the stigma attached to our choices. She implored me to continue writing in the same way that I myself have crawled through essayistic writing and memoir, in order to find traces of myself. And yet, sometimes it’s that very work that halts my efforts. It is both a blessing and a curse to have a story and a desire to share it.
Glennon Doyle had legions of blog followers when her books came out. She had amassed an army of believers who moved swiftly to defend her against the tide of scorn, and sometimes I wonder what hope an introvert who is disenchanted with social media has against that.
My new friend called me brave. It’s not the first time. It reminds me of a note that I jotted down many years ago:
Until he called me brave, I had no idea that I was required to be. Suddenly I felt dizzy – as if I had woken up on a parapet, high above the city, not knowing how I got there, or how to get down. Maybe he’s framing it against his own circumstances. Maybe he couldn’t personally do it because he had too many people in his life to lose and he couldn’t bear the judgement. Still, he looked at me in awe and shook his head and suddenly I became quite afraid. As if I was Eve, suddenly required to be ashamed of her nakedness.
Am I underestimating the courage that I will need to summon? What if I only summon a little and then come up short? What if there are consequences that I can’t see? What kind of world do we live in when it requires this much courage just to be yourself?
Glennon has a post-it note stuck to her mirror that says ‘Feel it all’. I wonder if Glennon retained her friendships, after inundating them with all of these feelings. Maybe she could introduce us.
I told my new friend that I am more careful with my truths now, and that even these posts will sit in drafts, often weeks at a time. Do I feel it all? Damn right I do. And even though each draft of this book is a careful ballet of speed-typing and backspacing, punctuated by moments of stillness and reflection, you can bet your ass that I still show up to write it.
Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. – Janis Joplin.