Hey there Dear Friends and Gentle Readers! This is Joyce and today I want to talk to you about being thankful for the hard things. Sometimes there are things in life that we don’t want to write about. We don’t even want to talk about them. Those are the stories that most need to be told and most need to be heard by other people. Those are the ones that will resonate and touch the hearts of your readers. Those are the stories we have to be thankful we are able to tell, even when the telling is hard.
Back in August, I submitted several pieces to the Southern Writers Symposium at the suggestion of my writing buddy Shelley. I had hoped to win some money in either the fiction or the poetry contests, but I also submitted a non-fiction essay to be read at the symposium. The work that most impressed the symposium organizers was my essay and so in October there I was, reading my essay in front of a small cadre of fellow writers.
I imagine that reading one’s work is always a nerve wracking experience, but this event was doubly so because I find the topic of the essay – the mental illness of someone I knew as a child – very difficult to talk about, much less write about. The initial writing of the essay came to me in a fit of inspiration on night in 2013 and since then, each manifestation of the thing has done nothing but bring me praise and accolades from readers, which is normally what you would want for your writing, but in this case, I find it very uncomfortable. I keep putting this essay out there though, because I know that reading it will help someone.
At this time, the essay is slated for publication. A whole lot of people are going to read it and I’m probably going to have to talk about it. Instead of being afraid of that eventuality, I am choosing to be thankful for that opportunity because in so doing who knows how many people could benefit from my struggle? Hard things are terrible, but life is hard and what truly matters is how we are able to transform those hard things into something good. While I am not glad that I had to watch someone suffer from and ultimately die from their mental illness, I am glad that I am a writer and I can share their story in a meaningful way that may possibly save someone out there from a similar fate.
So to should you be thankful for those stories in you that you are afraid to tell. Those are the stories that need to be told. Be thankful that you are a writer and that you can tell them well. Be brave and write the hard things. It will be the scariest thing you’ve ever done, but I promise you that when it’s all over you will be so glad that you did.
Joyce Ann Underwood is a blogger and essayist. Originally from Crescent City, Florida she spent her childhood on the back porch listening to the old-timers tell stories. This ignited a passion for nonfiction storytelling that she honed while studying creative writing at the University of West Florida. Her poetry has been published in the creative journal, Kairos and on the website HIV Here and Now. Her essays have also been featured on Offbeat Home. She blogs at www.firstpersonnarrative.com and joyceannunderwood.blogspot.com.