I miss you writing from what's going on in your heart, the email said. I know how it is to need to sell a product so you can eat but don't neglect that part of your heart. It's endearing.
I stared at the screen for a few minutes and then shut my laptop, the anxiety rising in my gut.
It's a romantic notion. Noble, even. Writing your heart for others to read is probably the highest of virtues in the literary world. But how do you capture the violent ways our souls bend and crack? How do you carry well the anticipation of others without folding from the weight of their expectations?
It used to be easy.
Before the rent check, before the heartbreak, before the betrayals, before the lynch mobs at the ready. I didn't need to worry about upsetting anyone because my story intersected with a very small radius of people and they rarely visited this space. I could share my heart without telling you specifics and no one would ever know.
But not now. Now there are ramifications. Now there are risks. I've seen what happens to those who are vilified.
And so I swallow my words.
I swallow the story of hearing my voice echo across a Texas canyon, coyotes yipping back at me. I swallow the story of friendships that weren't what I thought. I swallow the weight of words thrown carelessly toward another, and the way Failure draped himself over me. I swallow the fire, the anger, the jealousy and the fear. I swallow the emails filled with hatred. I swallow the good things, too. I swallow the flash-mob dance parties and laughing until I cry. I swallow nights filled with wine and art journaling and feeling the way my soul can be known by another. I swallow clarity and purpose and the return of confidence. I swallow the loss of faith and the rush of new birth, sweaty and bloody and wobbly limbed like a day-old colt.
I swallow it all until the belly of my voice is so swollen from lethargy that I can't even whisper the most archaic thought.
Yet while I feast on the words I cannot say, I'm telling you to speak your own.
I recognize the hypocrisy here. I'm working on it. These past few years have been tumultuous at best and there were moments I wondered if I would ever return to this space. But I'm here now, with hundreds of stories waiting their moment.
And with shaking fingers, I begin.