I grew up on a steady diet of metaphor and idioms, managing to absorb many contradictory messages. Not to “open a can of worms,” but my religious tradition taught me that I should simultaneously devote my life to humble service, develop my talents, not let my right hand know what my left was doing (when giving) and “not keep my light under a bushel.” A bushel of what? I always wondered. When my daughter learned the song in preschool, she sang, “Hide it under a bush? Oh no!”
That big basket over my little candle became a comfort throughout my life, providing shelter and invisibility without suffocating me or snuffing the light. Then, when I decided to make a commitment to writing, one thing led to another. I had to accept visibility for the sake of my characters, who wanted to be known. I started off with manageable things like starting a blog, holding author events and participating in online writers’ meetings and workshops. I sent off some articles to my friendly local magazine. Then I joined the board of a writer’s organization and became a coordinator of one of its critique groups.
Yesterday, I found myself at a bookstore behind a display of four of my fiction books and a poetry anthology. Lo and behold, I was talking to strangers. I saw more people in a day than more than a year of quarantine.
I like to think that by doing all of these writing-related activities, while I’m not actually writing, I’m contributing to my development as a person. I hope it will make me a better writer. If not, I thank know where I can find a bushel basket.
A seed in the ground
must leave its bed, seek the light
and open to grow
Do you find it difficult to share your writing? How do you deal with it? Please share in the comments.
This photo taken on the bridge from our peninsula really captures my uncertainty as I headed for my first bookstore signing. Once I was in the bookstore, I managed to relax and smile (behind the required mask.)