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I missed a soft place to fall when I grew up, so I've made my own now, but not without help. I tease my husband, saying that he's homeschooled me and that's why I'm the person I am today. He insists that all of the talents and joy were always inside of me, but when I was young nobody showed me the way to get them out. But then I discovered writing.
My readers say I write about life and it's true. But that sentence is so boring, so simple that in today's world it wouldn't entice anyone to spend time reading the things I write about. I guess what I do is take the every day mundane things that most people don't even notice, and bring them to life. Give them a voice so people can see the funny in them, or recognize the sadness they feel. I hate being preached to, so I'm not an advice-giver. I don't know all the answers and that's one of the reasons I write, so I can try to see the meaning in my life.
When I'm writing a column eventually there comes a part in the process where I feel agitated and it's not clear what I'm feeling, but I plow through anyway and magically, 20 or 30 minutes, later the column appears. I'm not quite sure where the column came from, in fact, sometimes when I'm reading it again the next day, in my book club email, I'm amazed that I wrote it. Just where did these words, where did this ability to write, come from?
Maybe I shouldn't be questioning where the ability came from. But as soon as I finished writing that sentence, I remembered what my mother said when I told her that I was publishing a business magazine--I clearly remember the look on her face. It was a look of confusion and amazement, shock really, and then she asked, "Just where did you learn how to do all of this?" It was as if nothing great was expected from me and she still couldn't believe that I'd accomplished such a thing--and that I was successful at it. But truth-be-told, sometimes I still stand back and look at what I do and I too wonder--just where and how did I learn these things?
I write about a lot of different topics, but a familiar underlying theme has a lot to do with self esteem. A friend of mine shamed me when she said that the subject had been written to death, "Nobody wants to hear another poor self-esteem story." And she might be right. But people feeling lost, needing a place to check-in once and a while, knowing that they're not the only one who feels like this--these things don't disappear just because it's not in vogue to write about them anymore. And I have just enough confidence in myself and just enough doubt to write about my worries and fears, to make fun of myself and invite people to laugh along with me.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all feel comfortable enough to laugh at ourselves when we screw up? A laughter that stays with us, tucked away inside, instead of feeling shame? Hopefully when people read the things I write they go easier on themselves and find that soft place to fall.
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
AUTHORBUZZ: With so many new books out every week, we promise these are five that deserve your attention: Michele Scott, A Vintage Murder; Cathy Alter, Up For Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over; Kathryn Fox, Skin and Bone; Brenda Janowitz, Jack with a Twist; and Phyllis Schieber, The Sinner's Guide to Confession. Go to: http://authorbuzz.com/dearreader