It never ceases to amaze me. A group of women enter a room. Friends, acquaintances, and strangers. The introductions begin and the familiar walls are erected. Automatic self-protection. We all do it. Leading with our best foot. Nothing wrong with that…
But then the magic happens. A woman begins to read. It could be a work of non-fiction, a tale of real-life. A moment of grace, a moment of fear, a time of great joy, a description of her life or an odd observation. It could be a story of fiction. A made-up tale of fantasy or hilarity or great mystery. Whatever she reads, it is an intimate piece of her mind and heart. She is in those words. She is unveiled, unguarded and exposed…literarily naked. She reads the words out loud and the words bless the ones who hear. The women are united by words, and as the women read, strangers and acquaintances dissolve into friends.
The thing is, in our day to day, we aren’t always honest. We put on a mask for those we don’t know. We want to be accepted, to belong. But writing…writing has a way of peeling away the layers of polish. It’s hard to write and leave yourself out of it. Our inner voice is always exposed. Our characters take on our fears and angst. They find humor in what we find funny, they are pieces of us and bits of our experiences. So we expose ourselves. We lay bare who we are in words and phrases until we finish reading, put down our paper and look up. What do we expect to see in the faces of those who listen? Blank stares? Probably. We never expect to be understood.
I usually start my reading with a disclaimer: “I didn’t take a lot of time on this” or “This is just sort of rough and dumb”. A way of softening the expectation.
But I look up from my page and I see knowing. Relating. Relief. Faces that say “I’m not alone. I’m not weird. I’m okay.”
Bridges are built.
Perfection is annihilated.
And women are united in the truth that none of us have it all together, nor are we expected to. God fills in the gaps with grace. We are all gaping examples of grace. And it’s all good.
That’s what writing is to me…what belonging to a writing group has done for me. It isn’t really about writing well or writing books or gathering compliments or even being heard. It’s about sharing. Connecting. Growing. Empowering.
Sharing our hearts.
Connecting with other women.
Growing in faith and confidence.
Empowering our witness to the world through the written word.