A friend stopped by yesterday, one whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. We exchanged the typical pleasantries, gushing over how well we thought the other looked, etc. Somehow I came to confess that everything I was wearing was new, and that the Chucks on my feet were just one of several pair I’d purchased for myself in the fall. “I don’t know what’s up with me,” I said. “I hardly ever buy new clothing for myself, and here I am in all new duds.”
“You’re blossoming, aren’t you?” she said with a smile. “Because of and through your writing.”
I sat nonplussed for a moment. I hadn’t thought about it that way. But she’s right – I AM blossoming. That’s not to say I’m where I want to be, writing career-wise or physical appearance-wise, but I am happier. And I owe that to the outlet writing has given me, as well as to the positive feedback I’ve received from my wonderful Flash Friday Fiction community and those few people who’ve actually taken a gander at my novel.
I have something all to myself. Writing is my own; I’m not wearing any other hat except that of storyteller when I’m deep in the words. And I’m apparently good at it. I hesitate to even say that – I want to add all sorts of qualifiers in there lest anyone think I have an ego. Believe me, like many writers, most of the time I think my work sucks, and I know I have a heck of a lot more to learn. But there are times – and, boy, do they feel wonderful – when I’m absolutely delighted with the words dancing across the page, words I put there, words others read and respond to warmly. Every bit of praise, of encouragement, of success, is like soil and air and water to a baby plant striving toward the sun. It nurtures my soul.
It’s not just outside elements that are helping me to unfurl. It’s something deep within myself, too – something that feels, in spite of and in the midst of all the anxiety and self-doubt, that I’ve found who I am, that I’m being who I’m supposed to be. And that’s a writer.
So thank you, friend, for your most excellent choice of word. It fits. And it reminds me of one of my very favorite poems ever, by the marvelous W.S. Merwin. I quote it here and hope that doesn’t get me into copyright trouble somehow (told you I still have a lot to learn). The last five lines in particular have echoed through me ever since I discovered this poem as a teenager:
What if I came down now out of these
solid dark clouds that build up against the mountain
day after day with no rain in them
and lived as one blade of grass
in a garden in the south when the clouds part in winter
from the beginning I would be older than all the animals
and to the last I would be simpler
frost would design me and dew would disappear on me
sun would shine through me
I would be green with white roots
feel worms touch my feet as a bounty
have no name and no fear
turn naturally to the light
know how to spend the day and night
climbing out of myself
all my life
– W. S. Merwin