"How do you get so empty? Who takes it out of you?" - Ray Bradbury
My most recent short story arrived in the form of a beautifully bound book. I clawed my way to the page and ended up tearing the binding in the process. Now my copy will forever be cracked open to my story.
I'm not mad--it's a representation of my enthusiasm and first-physically-published-story elation that I'll cherish forever. (You can buy it here!)
I rarely share my stories with my "real life" people, but I had to do it with this one. What astounded me was the amount of people--friends, coworkers, family--who actually wanted to read it. It is still very hard for me to believe that the people in my life might be interested in what I have to say.
But I did share it, because how often do you get to hold a physical copy of something you've written? I sent it to my friends and brought it into work. I left them there and waited as they saw a part of myself I rarely show others, rarely show myself.
Here's what I did not expect: That it would make them cry. People who have only known me for tiny portions of my life. People who have known me for all my life. People who barely know me at all. All of them told me, "Your story made me cry."
Today I lent it to my coworker during lunch. Halfway through my saag paneer, I heard him make a noise. A sniffle. And I looked up at him--he had tears in his eyes.
I once thought the reason I write is to say 'thank you' to my parents and my family, who sacrificed so much and lived such hard, incomprehensible lives to get me where I am today. The only way I can remotely get close to what they've done is tell their stories with dignity and truth.
But these past few weeks, I've discovered another reason that may have been here all along: I have been writing to connect. To say, "You as well? Me too."
We're not so alone after all, it seems. How is it that I am only realizing this now?
That moment of seeing tears in my coworker's eyes was the greatest reward, the most touching moment of my writing life. In that moment, I truly, firmly confirmed that this is exactly what I am supposed to do with my life, forever and always.