Monday, August 27, 2018

AT ALL



Here is the thing. It stings. It stings more than I care to admit.  When I write something really touching, or post something ridiculously clever, and it goes unnoticed. Unacknowledged. Un-liked.  But it isn't the likes I seek.  It is for the reader, sometimes a specific reader to find what I want to say to them.  When I write, usually short stories and poems, they are for small publishing firms, writers journals, websites and anthologies.  When I blog, it is quite personal, heartfelt and it means something to me. I want it to mean something to others in my life, too. I often write about people in my life and people from my past. I usually don't even go as far to name them.  I wonder if people are able to find themselves in my written words? If they see themselves and smile. If they discover themselves on page 152 and gasp for breath as they realize that same memory is one that they hold dear.

When I share on social media poems and stories that I have recently written and they have been published, it isn't for me to toot my own horn....Another one today! Woohoo! Third one this week! No.  It is advertising, creating a digital profile for future editors, Anthology compilers, and it creates a contact with more writing outlets.  Best two commissioned contracts that I have ever signed were from simple retweets and sharing a post. The people that I want to reach are able to easily access my public posts and read a wide variety of pieces that I have written.

But then there are the stories that I have written for the people that I care about.  My story Hands was recently published with a couple of different sites/anthologies. (I retain publishing rights as author to almost everything that I have written, hence, multiple publishing houses can publish my work.) I wrote that story about 5 people. But the story was meant for one single person. I don't know if they have read it. I will not ask. But I hope when they do, they smile. I hope whatever hurts, is quieted, possibly mended and that the days begin to get easier. My recent story When A Woman's Heart Hurts, was also quickly picked up. I wrote that story about one main interaction with a young encouraging woman in a restroom.  But I wrote it to encourage all woman. To let women know that they are not alone, there is always someone cheering for them, that reaching out might be difficult, but essential and that the heart hurt doesn't always remain.  The "About" and the "For" are usually two different people or groups.  But they are both so important in the overall storytelling.  The words, the actions, the love, the encouragement, and sometimes even the rejection and pain all serve as fuel for my fingers.  When I write, they are stories I feel compelled to share.

I saw writer post...Don't like my work.  Talk to me about it. Share my work.  -I love that.  Not in for the likes. But in it for the connection.  The conversations. The idea that others may also find value and validation in someones written words.

As a reader, when I read other writer's work, I can't help but engage in conversation. What I thought. What I liked. What moved me. Sometimes I even ask questions about what I don't understand. I ask questions about what inspired them. I want to naturally know more. 

My friend Jay Long and John Robbins are perfect examples. They both have published numerous books and they are impressive and thought provoking.  Each conversation I enter, I learn more about the art of writing. Rudy Francisco is a Button Poet. I have read his book Helium 4 times and find something new every time. Jen Mann turns out book after book and makes me laugh daily. I appreciate her approach and outlook at daily life. She understands it is ridiculous, takes it with a grain of salt and encourages others to do the same. My new friend Debjani (India) is a fellow Mercurial writer.  Her beautiful detailed writing about the sites and sounds of her gorgeous country make we want to stay up late and read until my mind understands all of it. Every last word.  My new friend Chloe-Helen Williams (UK) sent a few pieces by email.  I devoured them. Amazingly talented and I expect to see some big things from her in the coming years. Remember her name. You will be glad you did.  I love their work, I engage with them and talk with them about their work and I share their work.  The highest form of flattery to me as a writer is when someone remembers something that I have written because it was shared with them.

We live in a world of instant gratification and countless self esteem boosting social media websites. We have created this world, surrounded ourselves with fake friends, fake affirmation and whole lot of fake lives.

Rarely do we see the whole picture. Those perfect children? It took that mom six tries to get the perfect shot and whole lot of skittles bribing. All that success at sports and dance and every activity they have ever attempted?  Their family may be suffering. They rarely are all at the table at once, and those kids are feeling the pressure to succeed. Constantly. Those constant kissy face pics that are posted? She needs the reminder that their marriage will recover from infidelity. We don't see the whole picture. Only the perfect
glimpses.

Let's stop the fake. Let's stop pretending. Let's be real with each other. And sometimes that means messy buns and chipped nail polish. Sometimes that is peanut butter smiles and smiling children. And sometimes, that is admitting what a mess the day has been and calling in the reinforcements. The people that care about you and your family. The people you do life with.  Talk about that hard stuff. You need to.

I talk about the hard stuff. Sometimes too much.  Sometimes I am in pain. Sometimes I feel so inept at parenting and I need encouragement and advice.  And, as you have read this year, my husbands health has suffered greatly.  But what I write about, what I post, is truth.  It isn't always glamorous, someone is usually making a face at the camera, and sometimes I write in tears.  I have learned to be honest. I have learned to talk about the silly things. Like packing up kid clothes when my daughter now wears women's sizes and feeling sad about it.  Or telling friends that they can help us by bringing us honey nut Cherrio's and apples and fruit. (Thank you again to each of you who answered that bizarre call for help!) And when I need to ask for prayer because my husband isn't able to function, people respond immediately. They get on their knees and pray for relief. They pray for rest. They pray for healing. These real posts, lead to real connection. They lead to relationships with people in real life. Something I will always be grateful for.

So the next time you post something touching or clever, and no one "likes" it, do not despair. People have seen that pic. They have read the article.  They may also bring it up later in conversation.  They will thank you for sharing the jelly smiles, dirty shirts, crusty hair pictures. They will thank you for helping them know they are not alone.  They will hug you and love on you, not necessarily because you need it, but you are deemed safe, and they need the human connection. Be real. Be you. Be kind. Be loving. Then it won't matter if anyone reads your posts.

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