My debut book and memoir, My Music Man, was released by Bedazzled Ink four years ago this month. My! It has felt to have been so much longer. Acknowledging that, I realize it was only a few years before that Dad died, me putting bits of what I shared at his Celebration of Life into the book’s earliest draft. Since then I’ve signed three book contracts and posted many more blogs than I ever would have imagined. That’s a whole lot of writing in less than a decade.
What I continue to learn as I grow as a writer, is its power. The power of writing. Bits of this I knew before, but not like now. Now I better understand how by sharing emotions and beliefs so dear to my heart, finally finding the secret code to unlock so much that lay in hiding, is to be willing to be vulnerable to others. Vulnerable to receiving the good stuff and the bad stuff, along with accepting the risk of simply being ignored. And, it’s all okay. By sharing my own stories, I have heard from others who now feel invited to unlock theirs: the rich diversity of story, from different lives, times, places, experiences and beliefs. Quite a lesson to acknowledge this month when I also turn sixty. October. Always my favorite.
As I immersed myself in writing this memoir, I too wrestled with understanding and accepting privilege. Sexism and misogyny I recognized, at least some of it. Yet, I struggled between being proud of my heritage, and ashamed of Oregon and my family’s success, benefiting from exclusion of others. Me privileged by color –yes, being white –education and income. All of it. These days I think about it even more than then. Accepting I know nothing as I continue to try to learn from others, community members excluded to my family’s benefit. Benefiting from our state’s racist past and present.
Mine is only one, narrow story. I have no answers. Just ears and heart to listen. From so many who haven’t had voices allowed to shine before. Thank you to you who find pens and voices to tell us your stories so we can figure out how to make our reparations. And teach our children to be so much better.