I watched a movie the other day called Bigger Than the Sky. It was about a guy finding himself through community theater. At the beginning, he was a recently dumped, yes-man at work, uninspired, friendless, boring frump who seemed invisible to himself and others. He auditions for a play at the local community theater despite having no experience and gets the lead as Cyrano de Bergerac. Through the course of the movie, he meets another girl, makes some friends, quits his job and finds out he can be a leading man in the play and in his own life.
It wasn’t a great movie but it was a really good one, and it did have John Corbett, Amy Smart, Patty Duke and Sean Astin in it. But more importantly, it resonated with me. It will stay with me. I realized half way through it, I had seen it before years ago, but it had not made the same impact then. I had not been going through the same process then either.
When I really started writing full time a year and a half ago, I was a closed off, emotionally stunted, relationship-challenged, hopeless romantic trapped in a jaded cynic’s body. People for decades had been telling me to tear down my walls and let people in, to be vulnerable. I rolled my eyes and said I was perfectly happy as I was – thank you very much. When I decided I wanted to write for a living, it didn’t take long to figure out that if my writing was ever going to be great, it needed to be emotional and vulnerable. But, how do you write that when you aren’t living it? Answer: you can’t.
So, I have spent this year tearing down walls, opening up, exploring sides of me I didn’t know existed and becoming the most authentic me I can become. Am I still a work in progress – yes. Do I still have a long way to go – hell yes. But, am I already a better writer for it – most definitely. Sometimes, I feel like a walking wound, crying all the time. Feeling raw and exposed is not the most comfortable place to exist, yet I have thirty years of pent up emotion waiting to be expressed, so I shouldn’t be surprised that it takes time and a lot of energy. I’m glad though. I’m happier, calmer, and more at peace within my own skin than I have ever been.
As writers, we can research jobs and places from the comfort of our home thanks to the internet. We can fake it well enough the reader may never know we haven’t done that job or visited that place. We can’t fake the emotions though. We have to put ourselves out there in order to draw the reader in with us. It’s worth it though, isn’t it? If we can touch someone with our writing? I think so. What say you?