I imagine myself walking into a crowded room, making my way down the isle, to a podium on a stage. Faces turn to look at me as I walk, feeling that overwhelming heat behind my ears that lets me know I’m nervous. Some faces are kind, others indifferent, but all of them turn to look at me.
I walk up on stage and flick the microphone to see if it’s on, the way I learned you’re not supposed to do it. I come closer, and in a shaky voice, begin.
Me: Hi, my name is Bri, and I’ve been a closet writer for the past ten years.
All my characters: Hi, Bri!
I look at all the faces in the room: the three old ladies I wrote about in my teens; the self-destructive young women that always seemed to be a trend with me, all sitting in a row, sulking, without looking at each other; couples, still not on speaking terms; couples in love; a fisherman from Rio and his adopted son; a failed writer contemplating moving to an unknown country for inspiration; the various women in my family whom I never met, in their dark dresses and shiny wedding bands, smiling at me encouragingly; and pretty much everything in between.
Essays, ideas, poems; good, bad, worth a second look, fit to line the bin; all of them. Real stories, hearsay, family legends, wishful thinking. Some finished, most just abandoned and filed away for a second look some day.
When I moved out of home almost ten years ago, I thought (with the arrogance that is only allowed when you’re very young) one of them might be my ticket to publishing my first book. It never crossed my mind that the new challenges I was about to face and new things I was about to experience would open up the way I see the world, and enrich the stories that were simply the fruit of a teenager’s imagination.
I can’t help but notice three characters are not there. I scan the room for their faces, but they don’t seem to be there. Have I let them down? Have they decided not to be there to spare me the embarrassment of having to tell the others their story?
“It’s ok, you’re doing well,” whispers a gentleman behind me. I look over my shoulder and there they are, standing together, dressed to the nines. I ask the woman if she’s still angry about my potential plot to kill her. She chuckles charmingly; of course not. Water under the bridge.
I shake off this little day dream and look at the manuscript again: 15,270 words. Possibly the longest I’ve ever gone on the same story. I feel proud. I feel nauseous.
Time for a new goal.
Thank you so much for reading, and have a good Sunday!