Is it that simple? Do people have "callings?" Does it sound preachy? (God forbid.) "Callings" are not an easy life. People take a lot of sh... okay, I'll be sweet ... FLACK for a "calling."
But, I have been called--to the life of writer and speaker. No other time in my life have I been surer of that fact, than the past two days.
I spoke Tuesday at the Winston-Salem Rotary, a larger Rotary group of men and women, approximately 200 strong in the audience. This prestigious group of dedicated and long-term Rotarians opened their hearts to me. I’m always a little hesitant before giving the speech, COMING OUT OF THE DARK AND INTO THE LIFE OF A WRITER, because I do lay my soul open for all to see … and some of it isn’t pretty. However the speech is inspirational and uplifting. Tuesday, I bore witness to that fact.
Several Rotarians greeted me as I finished my presentation and walked down the steps to proceed to my book-signing table. They wanted to shake my hand. They relayed how the power of the message moved them. Several prominent businessmen in the group wanted a copy of the speech. But one Rotarian stands out in my memory. A black man, distinguished, tall and handsome, he stood in his beautiful suit with pools of tears in his eyes. He shook my hand with vigor and said he’d been going through some trying times. That my speech blessed him and inspired him.
I was touched beyond words. I hugged him. I had to. It’s all I know how to do to respond to a statement like that.
The line formed for signing books. Many bought multiples, and nearly every person wanted to shake my hand, touch me, and tell me they appreciated my speech. Or they marveled at the way God had brought me to this place in my life.
I thought about it later. I’m constantly inspired myself, because I oftentimes feel like I’m in an out-of-body experience. Like I’m watching this all happen from a distance. At times, I’m blown away by the magnitude of the response to the speech. Riveted to their seats, audiences lean in and listen intently-- this country girl has something so vastly different to say from their normal weekly presentations.
I realize I'm not the only woman with a story to tell. And so many have gone through things I haven't ... like dreaded diseases or losing loved ones close to them. But this is a story nobody's heard. Something different. My story. A speech that until now, few if any, have stood at a microphone and spoken the words.
Today, I spoke to the Randolph Rotary in Asheboro. A smaller group, but a wonderful group of Rotarians. They too welcomed me with open arms and yes, the response mirrored the response of the Winston-Salem Rotary. This group has positively affected the lives of so many--within our borders and outside the U.S. Small but mighty, the Randolph Rotary is a shining example of Service Above Self.
Months ago, before writing this speech, I contemplated long and hard its content. I read and reread the quote by Harlan Ellison – “It is not enough to love literature, if one wishes to spend one’s life as a writer. It is a dangerous undertaking on the most primitive level. For, it seems to me, the act of writing with serious intent involves enormous personal risk. It entails the ongoing courage for self-discovery. It means one will walk forever on the tightrope, with each new step presenting the possibility of learning a truth about oneself that is too terrible to bear.”
And yet, Harlan Ellison also said, … “You cannot discourage a real writer … break a real writer’s hands, and s/he will tap out a story with feet or nose.”
And so … I wrote the speech, COMING OUT OF THE DARK AND INTO THE LIFE OF A WRITER. I'm nobody special. I know that. But I also know I have a destiny.
To write great stories. To speak and inspire the masses with the story of my life. This is my calling.
And the past two days … validated it.
Blessings to you and yours.