Last spring, I attended a Johnston Community College “World of Words” program supported by the Johnston County Arts Council. I was nervous entering the room as large crowds often intimidate me. It’s like I can’t focus on faces but the moment I do recognize a familiar face, I make a beeline to get seated. I spotted Cindy Brookshire, leader of the Johnston County Writer’s Group. Although I barely knew her, I made my way to sit beside her as she felt safe to me. Her warm smile and inviting demeanor put me at ease.
Author, Marina DelVecchio, spoke on the difficulty of publishing her book entitled "Dear Jane" as a true story. It is a heart wrenching real life story of her incredibly traumatic childhood. She had tried to sell her book for years as a true story. It was in fact, her story. Through a series of letters written to Charlotte Brontë’s character, Jane Eyre, she was able to craft it into fiction and successfully have it published. During her speech, I felt like she was talking to me directly; somehow, her words had a profound impact on me. I was sure God had divinely appointed me to be there that day.
I just couldn’t wait to purchase and read the details of her childhood. After the lecture, I waited in line, gave her the ten dollars and she scribbled her name in the front. Marina had no idea the emotions she had stirred in me. It’s like I was on the cusp of something, I can’t really explain it, but I knew that in that moment, I was finally gaining courage to move forward with my writing.
I began reading the book right away, unable to put it down late into the night. The familiarity of the traumas we had shared were uncanny yet so very different. Her stories took me back to places I have tried to forget, but unable to erase from my mind. Speaking of a memory of her mother she wrote, "A few feet from us, my mother’s shrill voice splintered the air we breathed, forcing us to inhale fragmented shards of memories we would rather forget…..This one is an embedded sliver of broken glass, its sharp edges rooted into my brain matter. If removed, I would hemorrhage and disappear into the folds of my own memories." I knew that feeling well. I just never had the words that described it so vividly.
The next couple of years I may be in and out of the studio and or perched on and off the computer screen fighting Writer’s blocks. But for now, I am going to trust God to lead me where He wants me to explore. It took me years to say that I am an artist. But I am an artist. It has taken me years to say I am a writer. But I am….