I saw this picture on The Writer’s Circle page on Facebook yesterday, and chuckled to myself. It fits very well with this week’s blog post, below.
Each year, in late December and early January, I take inventory of the challenges I had set for myself 12 months ago and whether I met the challenges. More importantly, I prefer to ask myself what lessons I learned from either meeting the challenges or abandoning them. At the start of 2015, I didn’t step specific goals for myself. Instead, I chose to greet the year with an open mind, inviting new experiences to arrive at my doorstep, instead of searching them out. My only criterion was that this year, I was to undertake a challenge that would take me far out of my comfort zone.
In February, after several serendipitous events that nudged me along the path, I began working on a memoir. I have always been very private about my life, only sharing my stories with close friends. I was brought up with constant reminders by my family to remain under the radar, to not publicize my successes or failed attempts. Many events were swept under the proverbial mat, never to be discussed again. I later found out that this is a very popular viewpoint of many Eastern European families. To maintain our dignity, we must never share our stories with others. Modesty is valued higher than self-publicity. While I agree with this valuation, I have a story to tell. Its whispers move through me until I know that the words must be written.
For the past few years, I have gone back and forth on the idea of writing a memoir, exploring an important theme in my life and in the lives of many women who surround me. Yet, to write about myself and my family would put us in a position of vulnerability. The stories my parents worked so diligently to keep to themselves would suddenly be open for anyone to read. Interestingly, those stories are not different from the stories that many other people carry with them. There is more that unifies us than that which divides us. That is precisely why I chose to move forward with the decision to write, to share my experience with others who might feel that they are walking a lonely path.
For me, the process of writing is not only healing. It also allows me to make a connection with many others who are seeking the validation of belonging. Even as an introvert, I seek to cultivate a sense of community, which can so easily slip through our fingers with the thinning of the unifying thread. I am not a go-getter who will readily get up and plan a massive party to create a cohesive group and build connections. Instead, writing is my tool of choice.
The task of maintaining the privacy of my family while telling my story is not an easy one. However, I can’t easily ignore my itchy writer’s fingers and the longing in my heart. So, I am facing a decision and it’s been setting me back, stifling my progress. The memoir will be written. Will it be published?
If you have any advice to share with me, I would love to read it in the comments below. Many thanks.