by Tracy L. Snyder
Friends drug me to my first writer’s conference a good ten years ago. While there I talked to an editor who advised me to enjoy the writing journey. “Have fun,” she said. “Make friends. Learn new things. Just don’t expect to be published. Accept the fact that the odds are so stacked against you that it will never happen.”
I loved this advice. It fit perfectly with the messages of my youth.
You’re good, but not good enough.
If you aim low, you won’t have to fall as far when it all goes south.
So I learned what a plot arc was, and how to describe scenes. I went to my critique group, attended more conferences, and was perfectly happy in my anonymity.
Then I started getting a new message. One that worried me.
This writing is good. It deserves to be seen. You should try to get published.
Last summer I sat across from the author Tosca Lee at a writer’s conference. She complimented my writing, then paused. “You seem hesitant,” she said.
My shoulders slumped in resignation. “I just feel as if I’m in so far over my head.”
She leaned forward until our noses were inches apart. “You’re not in over your head. You are a masterful writer. Getting published is well within your grasp.”
Wow, I thought. And then I froze.
For years I have been in treatment for PTSD due to childhood trauma. I’ve gone both inside and outside of the box in my determination get well. Acupuncture is great, and I haven’t shown a single sign of becoming a Buddhist. One of my favorite councilors met me at the door of her office with a fistful of burning sage leaves and proceeded to wave smoke all over me.
Fine. If it will help, then fumigate away.
I’ve worked hard, and have achieved a level of recovery that makes the specialists do Jazz Hands when they see my brain scans.
But when I think of being published, I still I feel the grip around my throat, and hear the details of my impending death should I speak.
I know that every author is dogged by a voice of doubt that whispers in the background. But for those of us who have been scared speechless at some point in our lives, the voice can be deep, and dark, and carry a threat.
Sometimes I grow weary, and I think about how wonderful it would be to stop hammering away at the wall of silence that surrounds me. How easy it would be to stay voiceless, and quit trying, and rest in the shadows.
And then I go get porcupined by the acupuncturist, and smoked by the councilor. I attend a support group at my church, join the Christmas choir, and play piano when no one is listening.
And I write.
I write not for fame, nor money, nor bragging rights. I write to reclaim my voice, which was removed from me with surgical precision.
I do know that I’m not the only author who has had to dig deep to reclaim my voice. And I believe that those of us who have done so, are left with a unique timbre and cadence to our words that others don’t have. I think there is grace to cover the pain, songs to banish the darkness, and laughter to stab the devil’s heart.
And so, I write.
About the Author:
Tracy L Snyder lives in Salem, Oregon, the wife of one man, mother of two sons, and servant of two cats. She usually writes science fiction or fantasy, but occasionally pens a piece from the real world. By day she is a lymphedema therapist, in the evening she paddles on a competitive dragon boat team named the Angry Unicorns.
You can find her website at www.tracylsnyder.com
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