“Be fearless and fully committed,” my horoscope said. “You will soar.” I wrote it on a Post-it, stuck it on the mirror behind my kitchen sink. Being a writer is scary. I went to a writer’s conference in July, and it took me until late October to recover. I learned two things. My memoir needed to have a story, and my novel needed to have a main character. They were both important things to know, but the experience rattled my writing self, left me lying on the side of the road. I drove away without her. I didn’t even know. It took me weeks to unravel it, to ride Greyhound to that deserted stretch of highway, to coax her back onto the bus. Now I am soothing her by rereading two of my favorite books about writing, Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Now in the mornings I sit on the patio in my courtyard after I feed my cats, and I drink my second cup of tea while I read. Brande reminds me to shelter my writing self, to not “run the risk of being made miserable by trying to cope emotionally with situations which call only for reason, or of looking ludicrous to the un-indulgent observer.” Goldberg tells me, “doubt is torture,” and I turn my back to its ugly face. When I read their books I remember to be tender. I slurp up kindness in their writing, lick honey from my fingers, swallow sweetness in their words. They are my companions in this journey. I close the book and sit back with my teacup in my hands. I feel the sun on my shins. I hear a sound at the gate. A sparrow rubs his hard beak against the dry wood. I sip my tea and close my eyes. I am not afraid to fly.
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