A student writes a fantastic piece of how their grandfather use to take them fishing on summer mornings. How standing on the bank, listening to the lake lap against the shore, under the morning sun they found peace. A peace they could not find anywhere else.
Then winter turns and their grandfather dies.
They write about how they have not been back to the lake in few years. But they sometimes dream about the lake and sandy bank and their grandfather. He’s alive. He’s working the fishing line with his finger tips. And with the sun across his face, he holds a smile of a man that will never die.
I tell the student that it’s a great piece. Honest and vulnerable. Made me think of my own grandfather.
“I hope you keep writing.”
“Yeah, we’ll see.”
I behind my desk and shuffle some papers.
“Hey Mr. Armstrong, can I ask you something?
I stop shuffling, look up, “Sure.”
“Are you ever afraid to share your writing to other people?”
“Yes. All the time.”
“So how do you get overcome that fear?”
“You don’t. You’re always scared to print or publish for fear of how your work will be perceived. But the reader’s perception is not your responsibility. As a writer, your responsibility is to tell the story. That’s it.”
The student ruminates, clear their throat, and respectfully responds, “So basically…fuck’em.”
How do we discover who we are?
Too often, our identity is formed by the judgments of others. We overvalue others opinions yet undervalue what kindles our own soul.
High school favors the brave. Writing favors the brave.
So does everything else.