I have a secret to confess: I am a writer who is apprehensive and at times quite petrified of sharing my work. It has felt as if I were living in a paradox from the moment I began to become more passionate with my writing. How could I both desire to create an impact on the people around me through the words I compose and never grant anyone the chance to lay eyes upon my stories? With each missed submission deadline or refusal to let someone even read the title, I became stagnant in my writing, never making much progress forward.
When offered the opportunity to select pieces for Bridge Ink, Project Write Now’s teen literary journal, I was looking forward to distancing myself from my own writing and focusing on evaluating and publishing others. Little did I know how this experience would grant me the necessary insight to reconsider my perspective of writing as a whole.
On one late night, with my cup of tea and dog residing near me, I began to read through the submissions my co-editor, Lauren, sent my way. From the moment I discerned the title of the first piece, I was immediately drawn to the originality, vulnerability, and expression of self strung together in every single sentence. I was in awe of how these teenagers were open enough to entrust readers with glimpses into their lives, allowing others to peek into areas they may have never disclosed before. I found myself devouring every line, leaving me often speechless in the raw talent I was witnessing. Each one was grounded in a unique and genuine voice incomparable to the next. I found myself rereading multiple times, grasping a new message or point of view the writer so carefully assembled.
I was always convinced that in publications, there was a certain genre, tone, or style the editors were looking for. Therefore, I could never craft together a story that would fit the exact mold they were seeking. However, now being in the role I once feared, I realize that is simply not the case. Readers, whether they are editors-in-chief at The New York Times or kindergarteners, feel most satisfied and touched when they walk away from a piece that changes their point of view on the world surrounding them and makes them feel a new emotion.
At the end of the day, I am not focused on the level of vocabulary utilized in the piece or the overall length. To me, it is all about the influence the work has upon others displayed through the writer’s openness to discuss the beauty, pain, truth, love, joy, sorrow, and various other emotions of life in every line. I want to leave knowing I have learned and felt something by the last punctuation mark of the sentence. It does not have to be this profound or out of this world point, simply something I can take with me that causes me to pause for a moment and reflect.
When I finished reading the last piece, I felt an immense amount of gratitude towards each writer for sharing their stories. The amount of courageousness each individual had to submit their work and grant permission for others to see is simply inspiring. I am so grateful to be in a position where I could read prose and poems that broke boundaries through their honesty and power.
There is a quote from Toni Morrison, the definition of someone who provokes introspection of self and society, that I would love to share: “A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind; they are its necessity.”
Being an editor for Bridge Ink has taught me the importance of sharing your work to not only impact your surrounding community but to also foster growth in yourself. There is so much potential, strength, and ingenuity radiating within you that must be released through an art form that is bound to reach people. It is necessary for writers to be daring enough to distribute that voice to all who come across it. Your story could be the one that alters a person’s once unbreakable viewpoints, validates their struggles, or motivates them to continue onward. Thank you to Bridge Ink and all of its incredible writers for reinvigorating me to finally share my story with you.