By Alissa Johnson
I recently marked my five year anniversary in the Colorado mountains--quietly. No parties or evenings on the town. Not even a Facebook post (that summer hiatus seems to be ongoing!). But I definitely took note of the way it felt. Rather than feeling momentous it simply felt right.
In five years, I've become a new person, doing things I didn't know I could do: I became a mountain biker, a downhill skier and when I feel like it, a rock climber; I wrote and published adventure stories, essays about life in the mountains, and got to tell some really cool stories about other people; I discovered that I had a novel in me and became a writing coach.
Seven years ago I took the steps that enabled me to move here: I started grad school and found the courage to write my story. I didn't know I wanted to move to Colorado and I thought mountain bikers were crazy. I acted on the knowledge that I could no longer ignore the pull to write. I was surprised when I started to write about my life--including those closest to me. My ex-husband, my mom, my dad, my friends.
The draw to write created an internal wrestling match. I sensed that I needed to do it (I would be unable to write anything else until I got it out of my system) but also resisted it:
- What if I made people feel bad?
- Why do it? What purpose did it serve?
- Would I ever publish what I was writing?
- If not, what was the point? If so, what on earth would people think?
Perhaps you've had (or are in the middle of) a similar struggle. The back and forth is natural. It means you care about your loved ones and doing the right thing. But.
What if writing your story wasn't about publishing or writing for an audience? What if writing your story is the key to living in color?
I've been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's podcast, Big Magic. She coaches artists through their fears and back to their art. One woman caught my attention. She longs to be a writer, but she's stuck in a dry, boring job at a call center. Elizabeth helped her get started on writing a short story... Lo and behold, when this writer got started, she found herself writing about her mother!
She chose to go with it--and here's the part that really struck me--because writing helps her live in color. Without writing, the world consists of black and white and shades of grey.
In a single sentence, this writer summed up why I write and why I help writers tell their own stories. It's the key to freedom. It's the key to possibility. It's the key to a life lived in color.
But for now I want to hear from you:
- If you found the courage to write your story, how would it help you live your life in color?
Leave your answer in the comments below! Seriously, I want to hear what you would do!