Friday, January 21, 2011

Good For the Soul

I am currently working on a Master of Fine Arts in the Southern New Hampshire University low residency program.  Yesterday, our amazing graduate assistant, Tim Deal, posted an entry on the Writing in the SNHU-MFA blog titled “Dirty Little Secrets,” which encourages all of us to “share and discuss (our) work whenever the opportunity presents itself.”

I understand the vulnerability of the writer he describes and her unwillingness to share her work.  I know it helps me grow as a writer, I know it is good reading practice, I know, I know, I know.  Yet, I still don’t “share and discuss (my) work whenever the opportunity presents itself.”

This morning, I took Tim’s words as a call to action.  

Like a lot of aspiring writers, I have a “day job.”  I am a Home Health Nurse and I travel from door to door.  I have some patients that I have seen daily for several years.  One particular woman lives in an Assisted Living facility and every morning, she and three other women sit down to breakfast as I’m leaving their home.  They all know me by name, know I’m a student and know that I write.  They have asked several times to hear one of my “stories,” but I have begged off, making excuse after excuse.

Several years ago, I had a story published in Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul titled “Until Death Do Us Part.”  It is an essay about an elderly woman I met in an assisted living facility and how her outlook on the passing of her husband had a great affect on me personally.  I thought the story would be appropriate for my small fan base, and armed with a copy of Chicken Soup, I left the house early this morning for an impromptu breakfast reading.

 This particular story tends to make me cry, but every elderly woman I have ever known to read it or hear it has had a different response.  They smile.  It brings back happy memories of the men they spent their lives with.  After the reading, I sat and I listened to these four widows reminisce about their lives with their own husbands.  I found it difficult to pull myself away from their stories: all different, all inspiring, all told with an affection that continues long after the death of their spouses.  Stories that they rarely get a chance to share.  It made me remember how powerful the original meeting that inspired the story was for me.  It reminded me how precious life is and it forced me to remember to live in the present and enjoy every day. 

Yes, sharing our work as writers does help us grow in our craft.  It does give us much needed experience in reading and it does help us to affirm the fact that we are writers.  But sometimes, reading to others simply brings joy to their lives, no matter how small or for how short of time that may be.  Sometimes, reading to others helps us grow as individuals.  Sometimes, it is just good for the soul. 

Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul:

Read the SNHU-MFA blog at:


timpdeal said...

Bravo! You are an extraordinary woman Kelly! I am thrilled that you did this. Thanks for the support. Looking forward to seeing you next week!

myartfullife said...

I love the passing of the baton, releasing a story off to the reader. You never know what new life your words will take on. Isn't it thrilling when your story actually triggers memories and self-discovery for others? Bet those ladies at the breakfast table see you in a new writerly light now.