I reopened a Google document three days ago.
The last revisions were in November of 2016.
I remember where my life was at the time. I had moved across the country. Oregon to Ohio. A transition from an urban community college to a rural university lifestyle. I had recently fallen in love. Started a new job.
In my life on the opposite coast, I turned to words to ease a sense of loneliness in a new space. I was working on a piece of fiction. All part of my hope to author a story before I died. Writing was/is my evergreen passion.
I remember mentioning my keenness for writing, in passing, to my significant other. It was September of 2016. My first real college love.
Writing, I said, was part of my dreams in growing older. A way to pour my thoughts and memories into an alternate reservoir. A way to time travel and escape daily life.
He asked to see my writing when I didn’t immediately offer to share. He loved literature devoted to ancient Roman battles and architecture. I was hesitant. I wrote nothing on these topics. I wrote about color-morphing jewels, cloaked figures, and fairies. But I loved him. I couldn’t say no.
I shared a chapter with him late one night. I told him to read what he wanted. “Thoughts?” I waited for his reply.
“Not that great.”
I remember reading this message. Once, twice, three times.
My heart fell to my feet. My scalp prickled. There must be some mistake. He was Icarus. We were in the early stages of love, and brushing the corona of the sun. There was nothing that he could say that I could find fault with. Until this moment.
I suggested a different chapter. An unrelated scene. I waited again.
“I don’t know.”
I was numb, though I tried to brush off my worry. “I still hope to publish something someday, even if it’s not this,” I said. I’d worked so long on this. Suddenly I was reasoning through discarding writing that had been developed over a period of my life.
His reply fed my doubts. “I don’t know. Maybe…”
I was heartbroken. The vision of Icarus was crumbling. Thought I still found myself most at fault. I had never received feedback that made me consider abandoning the thought of writing a book or being an author. The fact that I would hear it from the one I had given my heart to, was beyond believable to my younger self.
I must not be that great of a writer. . .
I clicked through pages after he’d wished me goodnight, feeling tears forming. Thousands of words here. I closed the document. November 2016.
It wasn’t opened again until 3 days ago.
What kept me away? My relationship ended in March for reasons removed from shared fiction. Still, I didn’t take up creative writing after we’d parted. Only research essays for college courses. Self-doubt was consistently my editor, regardless of the work I did. I had never felt so at odds with my ability to convey my thoughts and visions.
I reopen my documents and journals now with curiosity, sadness, and anger. How could I have let one person’s feedback sear me so deeply? How could I let the memory of those words keep me from a dream that had been present for so much longer than this boy had been a part of my life?
I look back and see the opportunities I had to write. To explore shaping my chapters, characters and settings further. I had lost key moments to share my words with others, and they with me, whether on different pieces or the one story shared once upon a September.
I let words stop my words. I felt self-doubt based on the opinion of one who I gave the power to have the final say. In the end, I succumbed to an inner voice that said I was not worth publishing. That I shouldn’t write. I see my mistake.
I find a light within all this. It’s not the 11th hour in realizing the wrong in my beliefs.
What matters is that I opened the document and that I found the courage in confronting this pressing doubt to write again. Not to prove a naysayer wrong, but to feel a rightness and happiness in my soul. I think I am a writer. Therefore I am a writer. Treating my being to that belief. I’ve resumed my work. And that counts for something. No one can take my lifelong passion from me, or these words from the pages I have created. This dream has encompassed my whole life. Giving that up was a foolish and empty sacrifice.
I will become the author I’ve envisioned since I first held a pencil. From that moment that I looked in my grandmother’s eyes as a little one, promising her I’d write her something she might find on a library shelf one day.
I’m finding the words again. In this life, I’m following my passions, and capturing fairy wings and glittering jewels between pages.