“Every dream, every possibility, and every journey –real or imagined – begins with two words, “what if…”
You know, I’m only here so we could talk. So pull up a chair and sit down because we have much to discuss.
“What?” you ask.
Well, everything really. Hopes, dreams, the things we want, those we can’t have, the stuff we’d die for, and of course, perhaps most importantly—the things we’re too afraid to pursue.
There’s plenty on that list isn’t there?
We’re writers after all, so who knows better than us all those things our words refuse to say?
People misjudge us all the time. They, with their foolish notions that writers are narcissistic, fame hounds. They, who can’t understand the things that lie within the author, or the reasons that we write.
They’ll never see the joy, the pain, the hope, the fear, or the courage.
Courage. That may seem a funny word for someone who lives in his head and not on a battlefield.
But isn’t there bravery in being the first to ask, “what if?”
When we answer that question, don’t we put a piece of ourselves on the page for others to examine?
Don’t we work hard to mask that raw emotions in colors of plot and in textures of dialogue?
Is anyone else so honest?
And that’s what I wanted to speak to you about—what if?
What if you really went for it?
The honesty in your writing, I mean.
I know you’re holding back on us a bit. That some of the best of you have been deleted from that page.
Your worries that people might not understand. That they might laugh. That there exist some set of rules that demand you can’t be the real you. A false belief that we don’t want the real you.
That’s not the real problem, of course.
Honesty takes courage. Honesty with one’s self it takes the most courage. The world isn’t holding you back, you are.
What matter are those opinions from the land of strangers?
How can they really see you anyway—you can’t hardly see yourself. You only see the things you believe will make the world reject you. But in truth, you are hiding only from yourself.
And yet you are so close.
It’s why you write.
Not to speak in plots, but to whisper in truth.
The truth of who you are, and all the things you think, and all that you feel.
You want to say it all. You want people to laugh with you, cry with you, to stand in awe at how beautiful this world is when seen through your wonderful eyes.
But still, you delete the best of you from the page.
It takes courage to give so much of yourself. To reveal it for all to see. To, with the unfettered passion of your heart, chase those dreams.
And there is fear.
Fear that the words aren’t good enough. That in rejecting their meaning, people may also reject your meaning, your essence.
Except it’s not true. Because inside all of us is that same fear and beyond it is that solace we find when we see it in others and realize we aren’t alone—there are safety and warmth in those honest numbers.
I want you to win. I want you to catch your dreams. I want you to win by being you.
Because if I can see you, the real you, in your words, then I too might find such courage to show the real me in mine.
So what if?
What if you told me that story you really want to tell?
What if you didn’t try to imagine “how” I might accept your words and just gave me the true, honest ones?
What if you didn’t delete the best part of you from the page?
I would love that and I would love you for sharing it.
Some people might run in fear from such a thing. Fear that they may be asked to do the same. Fear because they aren’t you and they aren’t me. They aren’t ready such realities, such truths. They’re still following all the rules that no one ever made. Doing the right thing, being the right person, writing the right book.
But that’s why I asked you here.
Because you and I, we’re trying for something a little different. Something a little more honest…something a little more us. We’re not here to rationalize the right reasons that we do the wrong things. We make many things up, but never the stuff that’s in our hearts. We leave those lies for others. We’re writers and honesty is the raft we ride atop that sea of fiction.
I see that dream in you. It’s there in your eyes and your expression. I know it well. I see it each morning when I look in my own mirror.
And that’s why I brought you here because I want to tell you to chase that passion, to pursue that dream.
I’m cheering for you and I’d give you the courage to do it if such was mine to give.
But what if?
What if you just did it?
Just put that story, the real one inside of you, onto that page. And lived that real story—the story that is you.
It’s scary I know, but here’s what I believe most of all—if you do it, the world will love you.
So go out there and be you. And damn those who are frightened or angered by your honesty.
Be you for all of us who want you to win.
Be you for everyone who has ever read “the end” and said “wow.”
Be you for everyone who has ever found a part of themselves in a story.
Be you for everyone still too afraid.
Be you because we can’t find you otherwise.
Be you because it’s the most beautiful version.