Fifth grade was a rough year for me. I had my first taste of mean girls when my long term girl gang dumped me in one of those horrid pre-pubescent moments when the other girls decided I didn’t measure up to their checklist of cool-ness, my family was being tossed and turned by transitions and shifts, and I started middle school.
In those first weeks – perhaps the very first week of middle school – I got pulled aside in my English class with a group of 6 or 7 other students who hadn’t done well on our first writing assignment.
(The wound still hurts, I discover, so I will shift into third person for a moment).
Little Julie, who always excelled in writing, was set aside as someone who writes badly.
She who had been scribing before she was literate – dictated to her Mommy, sat in the back seat of the turquoise country squire because and wrote cursive e’s in row after row after row because she knew she had something important to say and she wasn’t going to let the fact that she didn’t know how to read or write stop her.
She knew she had to write.
(Now that Little Julie had her moment, back to Now Julie).
By the time Mrs. Wilson got to me to review my bad writing, I started to cry and couldn’t stop. Here was the one thing I knew I was good at being marked the equivalent of a “D” with all the requisite red marks across my carefully planned words.
David and Perry were there and only one other girl. I was singled out with the low achievers and only one other girl who I didn’t know and I further embarrassed myself by crying as I explained, “But I always write well….”
I can step back outside myself and witness this as an adult and I see Mrs. Wilson’s horrified at herself face for “making this little girl cry” (perhaps sparking her own memory) and before the end of that session, my paper had been remarked “Excellent” and I went on to have a great year in that particular classroom.
It even became a refuge for me amidst other not-so-great stuff which may be why the call to write and broadcast about writing woundedness is so strong.
On my periscope broadcast today one of my beloveds spoke of her writing wounds and how writing with us in #5for5BrainDump changed things for her. So I cried again today, live, and now recorded, for anyone in the world to see. And now I am not even embarrassed. Tears of joy, tears of sorrow, tears of authenticity – no apologies.
I’ve been trying to find something written about the woundedness many feel around writing – perhaps the biggest cause of writer’s block and I can’t find a thing about it.
Strange, because this is oftentimes the reason people show up in my programs, classes and livestreams: they’ve gotten the word I create a safe environment for people who want to write: a place where we write together, allowing our pencils and pens to flow freely without worry of judgment or a big thick red pen marking out our most of the time carefully chosen words.
Harsh criticism – delivered without considering the person whose hand brought those words to the page – is something that has long troubled me. I have many examples from my past I’ve managed to write around which is somewhat surprising given my sensitive nature.
People have stories to tell, YOU have stories tell that the world is waiting to hear – a specific audience member, a distinctive listener or reader waiting for you to become brave enough to move your pencil across the page and say what needs to be said, what is waiting to be said as only you can say it.
The world is waiting for your words.
Let’s bring them to the page now.