Y’all. Yesterday was a moment in time I will replay over and over in my mind.
I was done for. I sat with my toe tapping and my heart singing. I once heard someone call good stuff for the soul “soul tanning.” Too true. I didn’t even recognize the songs but it didn’t matter. It resonated with me and I was home. Sitting there in one of my favorite places surrounded by friends and family. I could have sworn my Granny was there too. The banjo player is a friend of Aub’s from college. This young woman is going to go places. She is not even a college graduate and yet she already recognizes the value in preserving, sharing, and celebrating things from the past. Like this toe-tapping, ear-pleasing music. I could have listened for days.
As if that weren’t enough, two of my favorite authors took the stage to share about their newest books. Karen Spears Zacharias (“Mother of Rain”) and Ann Hite (“The Storycatcher). They shared stories from their pasts and stories from their books. It was entertaining, informing, and just downright fun. I love hearing the stories of others about as much as my Daddy did. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
This morning we were back at our favorite coffeehouse, which hosted the writers’ events. Ann led a Writer’s Workshop and Karen wrote along with us and shared her thoughts as well. It was the most encouraging, challenging, and exhausting two and half hours I have had in a long time. (With this crew I live with here, that’s really saying something.) And did I mention exhilarating? Yes, that too. Definitely.
I haven’t written fiction in a long, long time. There are things you give up and then you look back and think–when? why? And I have my suspicions but no definite answer so let’s just say I gave it up. But today we were writing and sharing fiction based on writing prompts Ann shared with us. Pen to paper, and lose that editorial voice.
Lose who? You mean that voice in my head that constantly quirks its eyebrow over word placement, comma usage, and for goodness’ sake, have you completely forgotten how to spell everything?
Yes. That one.
Perhaps that wasn’t the hardest thing. Not to nibble on the end of my pen and wonder what this character’s name should be. What room in the house are they in? Ooops, I should really rewrite that. None of this is worth reading anyway. Might as well just start over.
And just write.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good. Ann Hite said that too. It doesn’t matter. We will write junk on the way to the good stuff, and it’s okay. Karen said that the reason people get published is that they don’t give up. Well that would do it, wouldn’t it?
I’ve thought a lot about that voice today. It used to sound a lot like the voice from my previous life. And I’ve thought a lot about the voices we let in our heads in general. Whom do we have to kick out of our heads to allow us to TRY for that full potential? And what will it take for us to finally do it?
I had a sweet, precious, and tenacious lady who was a patient of mine when I worked with Hospice. We became fast friends. She was younger than most of our patients, too early for retirement anyway. She had a degenerative disease, so her husband had placed her in this nursing facility. I got the impression that he wasn’t a kind husband to begin with and suspected that she actually might have been better off in the facility than at home. But she didn’t talk a lot about that. I soon figured out that she still heard his voice and that it was a negative one. One day we were visiting and she shared that her husband was on a hunting trip. We shared stories, and I complimented her about something. She pretty much waved it off. I was being sincere and I said it again. She said, “No no no.” I knew she was dealing with all the negativity she’d been handed very possibly for years. I touched my temple with my pointer and said, “Is that what he says? Is he in there saying all of that?” My sassy friend cocked her head as best she could, smiled, and pronounced carefully and deliberately, “No. He’s in the woods.” She laughed, and I did too. At least she could keep her sense of humor about her. But I’m not sure she ever could completely silence his voice.
I am thankful for the voices that are much, much louder than all of the others, especially that negative one from the past. I hear my Mama saying, “You can do anything you want to do. Just try.” Or my Daddy asking me, “Did you not have the time or did you not make the time?” Believe it or not, that is a positive one. He reminds me to be intentional with that one. They both told us girls that we could do the same things that boys could do, not to let that limit us. I always felt encouraged by them and I still do even though their voices are only echoes of things said in the past. They said them enough and with so much conviction that I believe their words will always be with me.
I do wonder what voices my children will carry with them and hear in the future. Will it be the “hurry up we have to go now” or will it be the times I’ve told them what a good job they have done, or how I’ve told them people trump everything–relationships are what is most important in our lives? I know what I hope it will be, but I really don’t know. It reminds me of a Brian Andreas quote: “There has never been a day when I have not been proud of you, I said, though some days I’m louder about other stuff so it’s easy to miss that.”
I need to learn to be louder about the stuff I want them to remember and hear from now on, long after I can’t say it to them myself. And I need to work on kicking out my own negative voices and dreaming of what I will try if those voices aren’t telling me I can’t. Scary but exciting, all rolled into one. Oh, and I definitely need to listen to more banjo music.
Whom do you need to kick out of your head? Go ahead. Try it, and dream big.