If you read my post yesterday, you saw that I was struggling with some things that occurred in a writing group I am involved with. I am a better writer because of the teaching and community in this group, but I felt constricted over certain events.
So I did what any writer does – I wrote about it. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel until I write about it. In part, this was my way of trying to process through the difficult emotions I was feeling.
If I’m honest though, I was also looking for some encouragement and direction from friends and fellow writers. The responses overwhelmed me and drew me to this recognition:
Of course community isn’t safe. But it’s good.
If that sounds familiar, it is because I hijacked this quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Lewis was talking about the great lion Aslan, but it is equally true of any good community.
I wanted my writing community to be completely safe. I thought I deserved a safe environment to practice my art. Until one of my fellow writers Lauren Huss asked me this:
If there was a completely safe environment to share our hearts, would we receive the same satisfaction?
Her question brought me up short. Like an open-handed slap to the face. I realized I was not entitled to a completely safe environment.
Indeed, a cocoon of safety would limit my growth. Part of writing is risk. If risk is removed, then the process of hitting publish on your work is somehow lessened. I lost sight of this reality because I let fear have too large a place in my heart.
There is no such thing as completely safe. This is true of any community, writers or otherwise. There is always risk in bearing our hearts and sharing our stories. We must all make a choice. Keep our story to ourselves and stay safe. Or share our story and risk rejection.
If the community is comprised of like-minded individuals, the risk is worth it. We will be challenged to not stay the same. Forced to grow up. There is always the chance that our risk will result in pain, but we can grow from that as well.
So many people responded to this post, here and in other forums, reminding me of how good our group of writer is, for me and for them. They encouraged me to stay the course, and keep risking.
Jeff Goins is the fearless leader of our community. He told me this:
You can’t really be a friend with someone until you have a fight.Conflict creates friction, which causes us to grow.
This friction is good, though it will likely hurt. Think back to when you were a kid, playing carefree on a playground. All was bliss and happiness, until you went down the twisty slide in your shorts.
Halfway down the slide, this horrible screeching noise started. As you began to wonder what the sound was, you realized it was coming from YOU. At the same time, you felt pain on your legs. Your legs didn’t agree to going down the slide apparently.
Conflict between your legs and the slide created friction. Then came the pain, immediately followed by questions.
Why did that hurt? What happened? I wasn’t expected that at all!
Then came the learning. Whether you asked your parents why it hurt or not, you learned not to do it again. So it is with community. Friction can cause momentary pain, but we can grow from it. Or, we can avoid the twisty slides for the rest of our lives.
So I choose to reject fear. I choose community. I like twisty slides. Even in shorts. Even when it hurts.