Posted in Writing

Writing, authenticity and Practicing Gratitude

I recently wrote  about the importance of writing from a place of authenticity and the role our audience plays in honest writing.

I have always viewed in these small moments as my place. When I sit down to write, I write about where I am in that moment.

For nearly two years now, I have used this space to express my love for my family, write about my past, and dream of the future.

And those of you who come to read my words have a pretty good idea of the types of posts you’ll find here.

One of the editors at SheKnows contacted me a while ago and asked if I would consider joining their team.

She said she wanted to bring on someone who wrote about parenting “from the heart.”

And in that moment, she handed me a tremendous gift…validation.

She validated the writing that I do here. She reads my blog and knew that I was the person she wanted to bring on.

And that wouldn’t have happened if I had wavered in my writing…if I had written to please others or bent to make my blog like some of the amazing blogs I read.

That’s what I want so badly for those of you who blog. I want you to know that all of the work that you’re putting in is worth it. Whatever you write, do it from your heart. Write for you. And I’ll be right there, cheering you on.

So what will I be doing at SheKnows? I’ll be writing a weekly parenting column called Practicing Gratitude and I’ll be contributing some additional parenting pieces each month in addition to my column.

This new journey leaves me giddy. I barely slept last night in anticipation of my column going live this morning.

I am so grateful to SheKnows for bringing me on board. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and find out it was a dream.

It would mean the world to me if you’d come by. Today, I’m explaining why it is that I’m such a sap. ;)

Close your eyes and write: Writing, authenticity and audience

During my time spent teaching College English, I began each semester by writing on the board some wise words from Peter Elbow, best known for his influential work in writing theory, practice, and pedagogy.

In Closing My Eyes as I Speak: An Argument for Ignoring Audience, he writes…

Even when we write, alone in a room to an absent audience, there are occasions when we are struggling to figure something out and need to push aside awareness of those absent readers.

I wanted each of my students to read those words as they began the semester…I wanted them to write without worry.

Twice in recent months, I’ve heard friends speak of the role their readership plays in what they write.

Twice, I’ve been saddened to think that what is inside of them…what needs to come out…is being silenced by what they worry their readers will think.

Tonya, who writes over at Letters for Lucas, broke my heart this week with her words in her post That Girl

For those of you that have stuck in there with me, thank you! I appreciate all of the support, virtual hugs and kind comments. I pour my heart and soul into my posts and they are very therapeutic. I know in my case, the way my parents died is very unusual and part of the way I grieve is by writing. It has helped me survive something that could have dropped me to my knees for the rest of my life.

Loss is a part of life and while for my parents it was too instant and too soon, there will never be anything I can do to change it, so I write about and remember and heal a little bit each day.

Sherri, another dear friend, who writes Old Tweener, a beautiful and heartfelt blog, wrote about her son leaving for college last year in Family Tree. She expressed to me, after writing that piece, that she was concerned that her readers might stay away if she wrote too often about working through her emotions.  Then, like an echo of that concern, several months ago she received some feedback from a reader that she just couldn’t read her words anymore because they made her too emotional.

Both of these women write from a place of honesty.

They write to process, to heal, to express themselves.

And what do I say to the fact that they lost readers based on what they write about? I say let those readers go…they weren’t meant for you. Write from your heart and new readers will come…readers who want to hear your authentic voice, not a voice you’ve altered to please others.

I was told last year that I should talk about my father less, that I shouldn’t share so much of my grief with others because by doing so, I’m defining myself by my loss.

I cannot pretend that his death isn’t a huge part of who I am today. I cannot pretend that I’m not still grieving his loss through each and every stage of my life.

So, when I feel words tumbling around in my brain, needing to be expressed, that is what I will do.

That is what I encourage each of you to do.

Because once we’ve lost the honesty and authenticity in our words, we may as well close our laptops and call it a day.

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. –Maya Angelou

 

Rediscovered Joy

I sat in the room, the air growing warmer and more still with each passing moment.

There was a familiarity…a dreamlike quality that made me feel, at turns, both comfortable and anxious.

I have been away from this world for five years now.

The energy in the room…the joy…grabbed hold of a part of me that has lay dormant.

Janna spoke first, glowing with pride over her project, the project that brought more than thirty of us together.

Under the Gum Treeis a storytelling project, a collection of creative non-fiction pieces in the form of a micro magazine.

Live a story. Tell it without shame” is the thread that runs through each of the pieces.

As a handful of contributors read their pieces aloud, their words nudged and carried me back to a time when I believed I could truly write.

When I believed that I had talent that could be polished…that words were mine to gather, mold, and offer up.

In the years since, I have lost my way a bit, lost faith in what I can do.

But, in those hours last evening, I wondered if perhaps it’s still in me…just within my reach.

And as I closed my eyes last evening, I was lost in thoughts of what might be.

And those thoughts bring me such tremendous joy.

Thank you, Janna.

Thank you for helping me to remember and to believe.

You can find Under the Gum Tree on Facebook and Twitter.

Opening a Vein: Why I Write

Last evening, I was taking part in The Red Dress Club’s Twitter Chat and my friend Cheryl tweeted this bit of wisdom…

…to which Denelle (who is a fabulous writer) replied…

Denelle’s tweets made me feel a bit sick inside…like I’m some kind of fraud.

Because if I want to call myself a writer, shouldn’t I want to write? Shouldn’t I have to write?

But I don’t. So I replied…

And as difficult as that is to admit to a group of writers that I admire, that is my truth.

I don’t love writing.

But oftentimes, I love the final product.

I don’t write because it feels good while I’m doing it.

I don’t write because I am compelled to.

I write because I often don’t know exactly what I’m thinking or feeling until I do.

Because I want my children to have these words…to know how central they were to my life.

I write in case I one day forget all of the joy this life has brought me.

But not because I enjoy it.

Because I really don’t.

How about you?

 

To remember and make sense of things

Most of you know that in addition to this blog, I am also one of three hosts over at The Red Dress Club, with my lovely friends Cheryl and Katie.

Aside from my Friday posts, I have truly tried to keep these two blogs separate, even though I love them both. But just this once (okay, I’m sure I’ll do it again at some point, but indulge me) I would like to talk about what we’re doing over there.

We have one day a week where we post a writing prompt, and then another day when people come back and link up what they’ve written in response to the prompt. The writing is always amazing and the enthusiasm, contagious.

Although the prompts allow for both fiction and non-fiction writing, the posts written in response have tended to lean toward fiction, more often than not, and there’s just been something missing for me. I’ve wanted to write and read more memoir. (I don’t write fiction and at this point, have no real plans to do so.)

So, beginning this coming Tuesday, we will be adding another day of writing and I couldn’t be more excited.

We will offer a memoir prompt on Fridays and have everyone come back on Tuesdays to link up their offerings.

Memoir is my passion … it simultaneously energizes and soothes me. It also helps me to remember and to make sense of things.

And I want to share that love with anyone who will join me.

So, if you’re up for a challenge, follow me over there and see what we have in store for you!

The first prompt is up and ready for you.

Much love to all of you … thank you for indulging me.

And, I promise to keep the two blogs separate. For the most part.

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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