One night in September 2010 I joined Open Salon and posted a Hello, Here's a bit about Heidi the writer piece. It was shortly after midnight. I then found the “most recent” feed and checked it compulsively for the next hour. After 1am I posted a second piece to see if anything might happen, like a compliment/comment, the kind I was used to receiving from friends. I did finally get a few comments, thanks to Mimetalker, who kindly sent a few readers my way (at a more reasonable hour).
I was eager and a bit lonely in the midst of family life, seeking a voice of my own, a way in the world reminiscent of days before wedding, before title additions (wife, mother, homemaker), before I took a step back from writing in order to present myself into my life. I had accepted this pause in writing that I might, hopefully, in a some-time-later (nine years passed), have a larger, clearer, sharper voice as one of the gifts from the experiences of the new life; holding, nursing, bathing, guiding, loving the smallest among us and learning to thrive in a partnership with their father.
I have now been on Open Salon for just over two years. In that time I have received those hoped-for comments, and in “listening” to and heeding the wisdom of other writers in their own posts and various comment threads, as well as being honest and generous with my heart and life experiecnce, my writing has improved. “My” writing, I say, as if I don't mostly rely on inspiration that must so often come from the world beyond the flesh, a place for artists to continue their craft, only now through us.
In the first year between that introductory midnight post and now, I co-founded a children's theater company with my mom, developed a line of gluten-free recipes fit for almost anyone to enjoy and briefly produced and sold some of these items at the local Farmer's market (while my mom watched her grandsons and created and printed out endless pages of labels), and moved into an RV with my family. I spent most of the second year co-authoring, with my mom, much of the first draft of a book as well as helping to take care of my mom through a serious illness that finally took her body and freed her ever-present and sometimes beautifully mischievous, always helpful spirit.
And now, heart-broken, carried and encouraged in a mysterious manner I accept as her direct assistance, and determined to honor my mom through how I live, I'm stepping out into the world as a person who does those things, like earning a livelihood by my calling as a writer, storyteller, teacher, baker, a person who goes beyond the craft itself and says to the world, Here, I have this to give and I believe it is valuable to both of us, you and I. I am not comfortable with the new inner digs, but I am happy in that I no longer get to think and feel one thing (an aching “This I must do” for it is in my soul) and do another (hiding my light so as to not fail or stumble before an audience, or heaven forbid, succeed).
I share these truths on OS because this community, little as I've been a part of it lately, has been among my main teachers and encouragers in this journey of growing courageous enough to go beyond the ache of desire to following my heart in deed.