Photo by Timon Klauser on Unsplash

I Saw Your Story and I Loved It. Please Write More

I have to admit, I’m a little jealous

Meaningful work. I often wonder if what I do is meaningful. I saw your work today and it’s so beautiful. The way you craft words into lyrical prose and use metaphors that surprise me. I would have never thought of that one, but it’s perfect. How do you link those ideas in your head? Do they just slip onto the page as you write and surprise you too? Beautiful poetic phrases about everyday things, like pasta or fences, that I never thought of as either beautiful or poetic.

And the way you capture how I feel — how did you know? Is it because you feel the same as me? Are we strangers but sisters in this one trial? Or is it that old horoscope trick where there’s a universal experience we don’t think of as universal—

“You’ll meet a stranger and feel uncertain.” “You’ll reflect on the past and it’ll make you sad for what was lost.”

It fools us because we imagine ourselves as special; that our inner-worlds are unique; we’re unicorns in a field of horses. We think no-one has ever felt the exact way we did, or have, or are. Then we stumble across something (like what you wrote) and it’s so raw and out there — prostrate and vulnerable on the page— and we feel it was us that bled those words, and why didn’t we think to write them down that way? To express them that way? Because those words, in that order, captured everything just right. They’re perfect.

And I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m jealous that your work is such a perfect expression of my thoughts and feelings when it’s me that felt and thought them. I’m jealous that you’ve managed to do that magical thing that I fumble to do in my amateur way when I’ve been doing this for so long and shouldn’t I be able to express myself better by now? Shouldn’t I be where you’re at? I’m jealous because if I had your talent I would share it and show it and it would touch people’s hearts and they would feel like I captured their emotions on my page. It would feel meaningful.

What you do is meaningful and I respect you for it: I respect your voice, your bravery, your rawness. I have respect for your pain — placed out there, arranged so beautifully when it could (and should) look raw and ugly because those feelings are raw and ugly. But you’ve mastered just how much to show (or was it accidental?). You balanced just the right amount of exposed metaphorical flesh to make it art rather than porn. You posed and arranged yourself in the narrative to be a nude Venus in a Botticelli painting, not a pin-up girl in a centerfold.

And it both encourages and depresses me. It’s inspiring that someone like you is out there, writing beautiful prose in a world where beautiful prose is not rewarded often. Instead, we drown in the sea of “how-to”s and listicles. I write them (because they pay and this is my job), but I wish the public in general knew that listicles are not comparable to written art. I wish they knew that there’s a place for both the content creator and the artist. I wish they could read your work and love it too. I want to shove it in their faces, shove aside the listicle they’re reading on their phone and — with a printed copy of your story in ink, on paper (as it should be read) — place it in their hands to be held, to be caressed. “Read this! This is good! This is art! This is what you should fill your mind with.”

But most will glance at it, probably read half of it, because that’s what the stats say people read. Smile and nod. “It’s nice. I don’t really get it, but it’s good.” And they’ll miss the beauty. Like throwing pearls at pigs.

Your work should be the model, the gold standard. It should be what editors pay for, but I know they won’t. Except perhaps an editor from a literary journal, that’s read by the few (like me) who like that sort of thing. And the masses will continue to consume their Kardashian listicles and ignore the Botticellis.

And I’ll keep writing listicles too, because that’s my job — it’s what pays — and I have kids to feed, and really there’s nothing wrong with a well-written listicle. They have their own simple elegance— their own worth. And on the side, in my secret alone time when everyone’s gone to bed, I’ll search for more work like yours. And when I find those stories, I’ll know the world is still worth being in, because it hasn’t completely forgotten yet what is beautiful. Because there are still people, like you, who see into our souls and find beauty there amid the ugliness…and turn it into meaningful work.

Please, write more.

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What’s the story you need to tell? Boost your creative nonfiction at becauseyouwrite.substack. Book your coaching session inspiredwriter.kelly@gmail.com

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