Sometimes it happens that something I’ve written finds not only an audience but some positive recognition to boot. Responses arrive in waves. Retweets, comments, more shares; and for a moment it may feel overwhelming. I tend to apply myself to responding to respondents in a timely fashion and doing so first and foremost with a genuine sense of gratitude.
“Thank you for reading/sharing/commenting.”
And wrapped up in that gratitude there is also my internal sense of wonder and awe. As if I still can’t quite grasp how my words enter into the minds and hearts of others — and have meaning. That strikes me as nothing short of a miracle: My words/thoughts/ideas generating meaning for someone else. How do I know this? Several people have actually told me. They’ve taken the time and effort to write back, signal, share out. Those are the signs and they continue to mystify me even as they become more common to my experience as a writer.
What does it mean for me as an author to hear someone say (in writing): “I love your writing”? I wish I had a definitive answer. Let me say this: my ego eats it right up. There is, however, an associated feeling of disorientation. There is something also slightly scary for me in that statement. And maybe it’s the fear of loss that comes to us almost as soon as we’ve acquired something we were so set on having. If this person loves my writing today, there will also come a day (I bet) when she will not love it any more, or as much. I’m not sure if that is the correct fear but it’s probably a good enough stand-in.
I’m still growing into my writing britches. They often don’t feel right. So when that thing happens and my public writing is actually read and shared and found worthy of response, part of me is rejoicing while another part of me is concerned about being too far out in the open, too visible, too easily seen, about being caught “showing off.” Of course, who wouldn’t want to have their writing loved by others? Yet there’s that nagging voice of doubt that also turns up the volume in the same moment: “That’s today. It’ll never last. And quit showing off!”
The notion of “showing off” has deep roots in my childhood experience, no doubt. It is interesting to note the weight it still bears, the toll it continues to exact on my psyche and behaviors. More recently my task as an actively developing adult has been to re-examine this notion and notice how and where it fits into who I am today and the choices I make in both work and play. What previously may have been interpreted as “showing off” (performing, demonstrating strengths and affinities), I can now recognize and honor as in fact, “showing up.”
The more I write and share and engage publicly, the more I permit myself and others to “show up”, to occupy spaces with our whole selves and full hearts. If I am to be seen, let it be because I deliberately chose to “show up” and encouraged others to do the same.