Owning Myself: Words and All

Tuesday night I came home to a gift: a thick envelope pushed through the bars of my gate, too big to fit in the mailbox.  It didn’t register as I fumbled out my keys to let myself in.  Then I bent down to pick it up, saw the return address and got happy.  It was my copies of the literary journal in which two of my stories can be found, the first fiction of mine ever published!

I flipped to the table of contents.

I flipped to my pages.

I danced a little happy dance.

And then I walked across the room and showed it to my grandmothers, my father, my aunt — my family who couldn’t stay here long enough to see it.

And then I cried.

It’s not that the tears surprise me.  Or, that they surprise me much.  But I hadn’t expected to cry, and I’m not sure I can claim that the tears were all happy.  And I’m not sure I can explain why any part of my response wouldn’t be happy.  Yes, there is sadness because I would so love for each and all of those family members to be here today, to see the journal, see my name in print.  But they are with me all the time, so they have already experienced both stories.  So I think the tears were more about me.

When I went out to California for VONA last year, I had an experience bigger and deeper than I was prepared for, more meaningful and soul-affirming than I had imagined possible in one short week.  I had not one thing to prove in that amazing company.  Who I was was a given: if I was there, I was a writer.*  I’ve spent a long time not quite embracing myself as a writer.  Yes, I write all the time.  Yes, I’ve been in a writing group for years and years.  Yes, I have a graduate degree in creative writing.  Yes, I’ve published essays.  Still.

VONA pushed me past the weird scrim I’d set up between myself and my for real and true, out loud and in public acceptance of myself as a writer.  Opening that journal and seeing my stories was a reminder of everything I experienced  in San Francisco, a reminder of the commitment I made to my writing at the end of that week, a reminder that the scrim is gone.  “Remember?” those printed pages are telling me.  “You can no longer hide from yourself by saying oh, I write.  You’ve already unmasked yourself and said, I’m a writer.”

See what the other slicers are up to at Two Writing Teachers!

__________

*  Forgive me, Tananarive: a damn good writer.

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18 thoughts on “Owning Myself: Words and All

  1. Laurie Bargstedt

    I am very happy for you! Congratulations! Let me try out my new introduction… ” So & So, I’d like you to meet my friend, Stacie. She’s a writer. She also has a Literacy Zone AND is directing a federal education reform project.* Yes, it’s OK if you put on your sunglasses, she really does shine!”
    xxoo, so happy for you!

    * Sorry, Laurie, but for the sake of my belief in my sort-of-anonymity here, I altered your comment slightly. ~S.

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  2. You are indeed a damn good writer. And one of my favorite damn good writers!

    Congratulations on the publication! That is very exciting. (And how might one find out what journal and potentially get access to such a thing?)

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    1. Thanks, Alejna! Hmm … yes, still trying to maintain the fantasy of anonymity by not saying what journal it is. This is silly, isn’t it? While I decide how silly it is, I’ll send you an email! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Raivenne! I used to think that one word made such a difference. I’m not saying it means nothing. It means so much, but all along I’ve been thinking about that word and not about who I am in this equation. VONA really helped me break away from that.

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  3. I have GOOSEBUMPS. Goosebumps from reading your Slice. Congratulations on so many levels. Yes, for the published fiction, but also for acceptance of yourself. You are so cool. Maybe someday we can meet for real?
    Happy writing,
    Ruth

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    1. Ruth, I would love it if we could meet one day. I owe my decision to keep blogging to you and Stacey and your first SOL challenge in 2008, and blogging has definitely helped my writing. So thanks!

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  4. Congratulations!!!

    And oh VONA, ah VONA… people said it would change my life but I didn’t realize it would keep doing so, long after the week was over. Being in regular contact with you and other Vonistas through blogs and Facebook and emails and in real life has helped me feel like a legitimate artist (and pushed me to define what that means for me) all the time. It’s such a gift!

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