My writing has become the focal point in my life. So much so that I have been consciously willing to share a few of the chapters of the novel I have so carefully crafted with a select few who will unabashedly share their opinion of my writing. It is a big leap of faith and one I needed to make to get over my fear of rejection. Turns out, it was (thankfully) much less painful than I anticipated.
A very endearing couple recently checked into the lodge for their third visit. We were making small talk about how they would spend their week and she gushed about the trilogy she had brought with her to read. We talked books and authors and I blurted out that I was writing a book. After giving her a brief outline of the plot, she seemed intrigued. I took the first step off my cliff of fears when I asked her if she wanted to read some of it. My second foot followed off the cliff when I actually printed a few pages and timidly handed them to her.
Her excitement completely contrasted my feeling of nausea. She left with my soul on a few pieces of paper as I sat in my office, slowing curling into the fetal position, wondering what I had just done.
Hours later she came back to the office with a smile on her face that I have yet to define with words. But what really grabbed and held my attention was the red pen in her hand. For those who embarked on their scholastic careers before technology took over, the red pen was a symbol of doom and I began a staring contest with the inanimate object.
Her voice circled around my head as I tried to pull my gaze from that red pen. A few of her words burrowed into my brain, slowly connecting with the tissue, and my heart almost stopped when I heard “Mel is a retired English teacher”. It was over.
But then it wasn’t.
After going over a few corrections which made complete sense to me, the red pen no longer felt like a threat and became something else entirely. They were entertained by the plot. They enjoyed the phrasing of my sentences and they were captivated enough to want to keep reading. That red pen was the prophet that delivered the word “love” beside two of the lines that they enjoyed the most.
Somewhere during our conversation, that red pen became the pump that reinflated my confidence. It didn’t say ‘you failed’. It screamed ‘keep going’. Thank you Jean and Mel for the kick in the pants I needed to climb back up the cliff and get ready to take that leap over and over again.