Last month I shared my thoughts on the connection between writing and mentoring and courage at my friend Holly Ordway’s excellent blog Hieropraxis.com. Here’s an excerpt:
This fear of upsetting those who care, those who are most close and most invested in my happiness, is in fact more damaging to my creative process than any imagined punishments an anonymous enemy can dish out. Opposition is clarifying. Well-intentioned but misplaced concern is confusing.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of the tell-all tale (vaguely disguised or obviously autobiographical) that leaves a trail of bloodied and bruised casualties. There is a balance between raw expression and a writer’s responsibility not to cry “fire” in a packed movie theater (unless of course the building is on fire…).
But there is a way to tap into raw emotion and delve into the stranger crevices of gray matter that does in fact do more good than harm. It is risky but it is the best kind of risk, the kind of risk associated with pioneers and people who run into burning buildings to save lives. It is called creativity. It is called bravery. And it must be encouraged and practiced.
A semi-recent (over a year ago, actually) act of bravery on my part — participating in a poetry publishing contest — resulted in what’s now me looking at a pile of chapbooks with my name on them on my very own dining room table.
Which is cool, and so not scary that it makes me wonder what I was so worried about in the first place.