February 10, 2011

Courage

I don’t usually write about politics, and I won’t today, not directly. What I want to talk about is courage.

What we do, us writers, takes a lot of courage. It obviously doesn’t take any special bravery to physically sit down at a desk and type something in. No, I’m talking emotional bravery, commitment to your art, the courage of your convictions. And if you want your stuff to be any good, you have to push even more, beyond the fear, and lay yourself naked and defenseless on the page. The best work is when you write about what makes you nervous, what you’re ashamed of, your deepest darkest secrets. As Steve Almond says, “Run screaming toward the pain.”

This is something I try to do with all my writing. I have to say, I don’t generally worry about what people think, even my mom. (Hi, Mom!) I write the subjects that fascinate me and tweak me. However, the courage that often challenges me is the emotional courage of confronting things inside me. Those really hard things. Like writing about when we lost our first baby in utero at six months. It took a long time and lots of writers block to get to that one. Finally I just had to sit down and write as if I were talking through an outline. That’s the only way I could get started. It’s things like this, the painful things, that challenge me the most.

Why am I writing about this? A report about the Wyoming Legislature by Rachel Maddow.  As I’m sure you know, Wyoming is conservative and republican, and I’m a liberal democrat. So I have some differences of opinion with some of my fellow citizens. But this report made me so proud to be a Wyomingite!

This story is not going to turn out the way you expect it, by the way.  I won't summarize it.  I'll let you go watch it.

Whether you’re republican or democrat, whether you’re for or against abortion, these legislators’ courage to speak (personal) truth to power is amazing. I mean, Rep. Sue Wallis’s courage to tell her own personal story ON THE FLOOR of the Wyoming House.

Oh, and there’s that legislator (Texas, was it?) that stood and told his story in order to encourage gay youths. I can’t seem to find it online at the moment. Such courage.  (I found it. Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns.)

I’m going to remember these every time I’m sniveling in my cups.

Question of the Day: Who else do you know who’s had such courage?

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