Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The beginning of 2009 brought a beautiful, fat little baby. And the end of the year brought an unexpected gift as well. A pink-slip for my dad propelled me into the prison with an assignment under my arm. I wanted someone to conduct a writer’s workshop collecting the stories, the snapshots, that capture the essences, that suggest connection, that demand respect for all artists. No one volunteered to carry the torch I had lit in earnest haste. So I signed up, knowing I was rusty, if not ill-prepared. I was forced to start searching for my own pen and paper, lost under diapers, grocery lists, play dough and dirty socks. I rummaged around, moving piles of excuses and crayons until I found a small story. I wrote it down, fast and honest. And it spoke to me. And told me it had friends I should meet. And next thing I knew the children were hungry and unkempt, but I was seeing them new. And they were beautiful. And soon I realized I was waking up each morning looking for the story instead of looking for the door.
I nervously carried my little heart spilled on parchment to the first class. I knew I didn’t know much, but my years going nose-to-nose with angry football coaches taught me one solid trick- ‘fake it ‘til you make it, baby”. My dad did little to allay my fears. “You can come in today. If it works, then we can talk about tomorrow. We will have to see how the guys respond.” Thanks. I feel much better. I didn’t know what to expect, and still it was unexpected. There was hospitality and finger snapping and fellowship. We all read. I was moved by the stories shared. They burned beautiful designs on my brain and I mulled them over for weeks.
I returned home to all the chores I hadn’t been doing now that I had become a writer. There was always something. But there was also stories. Waiting. Some patiently. Some not. And I knew I couldn’t show up empty handed in December. So I sat down to do the work of writing. For history. For clarity. For the fellowship.