Something happened to me today.
I took a step towards the unknown, a dark tunnel that the introvert in me absolutely hates to enter. But I gathered up some courage and did something that I would have never done years ago.
I hosted a writing workshop.
It may seem like a small feat, but if you only knew how terrified I am to speak in front of a group of people and how my words get jumbled at the thought of blank faces staring at me, you’d understand what a great accomplishment that is.
For a while now, I’ve acknowledged a longing to expand beyond writing a novel. For a long time, I’ve had many excuses: When I have time I’ll join a writing class; When I’m done working full time, I’ll host a writing event; I’ll dedicate time to network and inspire others”. Well, the truth is I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do that. Many times, even when I did have the time or the opportunity, I shied away from the challenge because it was simply too “risky”, too intimidating, and too daunting. The past few months, I realized that my lack of success is due to holding back. It’s not rotten luck, tough criticism, or an unsupportive family. It’s me. I’m the green monster growling at the mere thought of stepping outside my comfort zone.
So, I asked myself a question. What do I do about it? Will I always live in fear to reach out, to swell beyond what makes me ‘comfortable’ and prevent my dreams from coming true, all for the sake of playing it safe?
The answer was revealed to me when a couple of months ago I marched into my local library and enthusiastically asked to host a writing event. When they cheerfully agreed to have me run the workshop, I left feeling like I had something to look forward to. For the first time, I had been proactive about fulfilling my dreams…even if it was something as small as talking to a handful of people.
After a couple of months of preparation, today I finally hosted my write-in event. My workshop carried a mission to raise awareness for NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month), hoping to generate interest in my community. Twenty people participated in today’s event and although I was terrified to even look at them, the icy wall soon started to melt away.
As participants introduced themselves, I was able to glance into their lives and their journey as writers. I realized that just like me, these are people with dreams, emotions busting at the seams,…and a story to tell. I was able to talk to a few of them at the end of the session and I was touched to hear some of their struggles. It’s funny, how you can meet someone for the first time, spend only two hours with them, and a shared passion such as writing can connect you to one another on so many levels.
Today’s workshop was so much more than conquering my fear or becoming proactive about my writing and involvement in the community. I was granted access to a small window showing a much greater picture. Writers are unique. Just like musicians, artists, actors, dancers, and anyone involved in the arts, they have a very special distinctiveness about them. The emotions and perseverance bursting out of a writer are an unimaginable force. Our passion is unlimited, our struggles a tool to narrate another story. The people I met today came from all walks of life. Some I could relate to. Some I was blown away with. Some I respected for their strength and courage.
That’s what a writer is all about, isn’t it? Having a story to tell based on how we’ve lived. When we write, we don’t just put words down on paper. We show our weak spots. We flaunt our mistakes. We show what we’re made of.
When I walked into the community room of the library today, I intended to inspire. I wanted to make a difference, to show that I could help. What I didn’t expect was to walk away blown away on how writing could connect human beings with the power of words. I was there to deliver a lesson.
I was the one that perhaps learned the most.