Holley Gerth: Be Courageous

"Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little."

This quote is especially poignant as I’m preparing to submit a personal essay to several literary journals for publication.

The essay is the story of my miscarriage earlier this year.

I’ve spent close to 200 hours on it and written upward of a dozen drafts. Very little remains of the first draft (which had good intentions, but none of the accuracy or craft of this final draft).

While editing, I’ve been endlessly looping between believing my hopes and listening to my fears.

Hopes: My writing will give voice to the fears and sorrows of other women who have miscarried, say things they maybe won’t even let themselves think because society never talks about it. My writing will give them peace.

Fears: I’m crazy, and this essay will show everyone. I’m the only one who’s experienced the things that no one talks about (which is why no one talks about them), and when I share my thoughts, I’ll just get blank stares and people looking at their shoes.

I realize that that my fears are arrogant (and maybe even my hopes). But I view sharing my work as an act of humility.

Because I am admitting that I am just like other people.

I believe that my kind of crazy is the human kind of crazy. The kind that deserves to be named because it will be recognized by others.

And if writing something scares you, then someone else is probably likewise held captive by the thought. And isn’t speaking the truth and freeing others why we’re here? Why we write?

Have you ever written something that scared you?