A Gentle Story Not a Sexy Story
I wish this was a sexy story about sexy things but it is not. Writing, binging sleep, and doing it all again the next day is decidedly not sexy. And, it’s a bit isolating if I’m honest. Daylight savings, cold weather, varients etc… keep a girl quiet and inside.
During one of those quiet, post-bed binges, I sat down to write and had this thought: who could possibly need another one of my stories?
In a world with so much going on, writers fear the answer is, nobody. Nobody needs another word from you.
We writers go through this crisis of purpose all the time. Why do we labor over the right word here, the appropriate comma there? There are masses of people truly suffering the slings and arrows of life and here I am spending an hour over a tiny little funny phrase, trying to get it right. How privileged, how pampered am I? Good God, Ann, get over yourself.
Before I wrote fiction I wrote scientific papers on mental health and exercise. My mentor would ask me a question and I would start to answer by saying, “I think,” and he’d interrupt me “Nobody cares what you think. Even your mother doesn’t care.”
“Rude,” Is what I would think. And then I would think even louder, “My mother does indeed care. And also, my mother doesn’t care what you think. So there.”
What my mentor was trying to say in his inelegant way was, “Give me the data. The facts. Not your opinions.”It’s a very common thing for women to qualify statements with I believe or I think.
We learn to soften the delivery, step on no toes, and we end up wondering if our words matter.
This morning while sitting on a dock of a wide and lovely brackish pond, I watched maybe one hundred geese take off from the water. It was thrilling. Two hundred wings beating the water, heads bobbing, wild honking displaying the physics of flight. Off they went except for one goose who tried but didn’t clear the water surface.
I held my breath, urged her on.
“Lady,” I said out loud. “Get going!”
She beat the water with her wings. Rested. Her head pivoted and she seemed to look at me and say, “WTF, help me!”
What to do? Even if I could get to her I wouldn’t be equipped to take her in my arms and fly.
I said as gently as my anxiety would allow, “Go on.”
I was more invested in that goose than I’ve ever been during a football game (no offense NFL).
I watched her flap and flap until she did it, she took flight and went off in the direction of her flock. I exhaled. She did it on her own. I didn’t have the tools to help her fly.
All I could do was watch and write about it.
This is why I write. Stories are my tools for reaching people I can’t physically get to, the masses I can’t comfort or sit next to and giggle with, or help fly. Those I can’t help in a measurable way.
My mentor would argue that since there’s no data, I only think I’m helping.
And I would say, I do have data in the form of emails, letters, and quick comments from you, my readers. And that is all the data I need.
If you have ever had the thought that nobody needs another word from you, another cool hand on a warm forehead, another kindness handed to a stranger in the way of a smile, that nobody cares what you think, I would argue: people care. The world needs you and your supportive tools, whatever they may be. That’s why we are here on this earth. To help each other, bond,snuggle when it’s dark, and create better news.
[Tweet “If you have ever had the thought that nobody needs another word from you, read this”]
And sometimes to write about it.
Big thank you to Samantha Hoffman for editing this piece. She edits all my essays. Click for her services.
If you want to read a story I don’t tell very often–you can read it here. https://anngarvin.net/heres-a-story-i-dont-tell-very-often/
If you want to read about how ducks take off I looked it up here.