Week three, day three of the A to Z Blog Challenge: Out. This is not Out as in yesterday’s post about the outdoors. This is Out as in, reveal yourself.
When I was a kid, I hated playing hide and seek. It didn’t matter how high or how slowly the seeker counted, it always seemed that he or she ended and called out, “Ready or not, here I come,” and then the repeated, “Come out, come out wherever you are,” too soon. I just sucked at hiding. Which meant I’d be found first. What was the point of even playing?
Turns out, sucking at hiding, in a different sense, might be a good thing for life in general and for writing in particular. I hadn’t thought much about it until I took a workshop from poet and novelist Alan Michael Parker just before I graduated from Queens University of Charlotte with my MFA. In this workshop, Parker told us we had to to, “out our mothers.” Your mother is the one person whose secrets you want to keep safe. If you want to be able to fully out your characters, you have to first out your mother. That doesn’t mean Parker thinks we all have to write memoirs; rather, we just have to be able to put whatever it is on the page. Write it. Read it. You don’t have to publish it, just get it out. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be braver, free-er to out anyone else.
Brene Brown might agree, only she’d say you have to out yourself as well. (Yikes!) In her work as a shame researcher, she notes that the power of shame is reliant on secrecy. The way through it is to out yourself. Once you tell the story that has held you in shame, you regain your power; you can do something about it. You set yourself free.
I think that if you dig down and choose to set yourself free in this way, you’ll be free enough and brave enough to really explore the possibilities in your writing no matter what genre. It turns out that, in life and in story, the winner isn’t the person who stays hidden the longest.
So, get your pen and paper out and Come out, come out wherever you are.