courage and bravery

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Last night, our group exhibited an extraordinary breadth and depth of courage and bravery. Writing to a variety of prompts affirmed that women at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility value this weekly writing opportunity as a safe haven; a place to explore who they are inside; to share with, learn from and support one another. They value the lack of judgment and the mantle of inclusivity woven with our practices, our agreements, our words.

There were so many powerful writings created in a mere 15 minutes that I have decided to post several of them over the coming days. I am sure you will agree that these women have more courage and more bravery than most of us on the outside.

I have found over the years that my writing has more courage than I do.’ – Linda Hogan

Oh, how brave my words are! My words will march to war, my words will protest the same. My words reach out to people I have never met and say, “Hey! You really want to read this story!” My words will show a mirror to people who never see themselves. My words will lift hopes. My words will crush spirits.

It’s true, what they say: the pen is mightier than the sword. But! But . . . MY pen? How can someone so meek write a lion’s roar, a cacophony, an avalanche of words to change the hearts and minds of others? I’m not that brave! I shake just thinking of submitting my work to a publisher. I had a two-hour panic attack when I submitted my last novel.

But, oh, my words have courage. I can show the world how they are slip-sliding down a road which will lead onto to ruin, ruin they are too stupid and ignorant to see the pattern of, writ large in recent history. I can show the world that the pendulum, once it has swung in one direction, will inevitably swing the other; and then what destruction will these blind sowers reap?

But . . . Oh, my words have courage! Hemingway said, ‘sit down at a typewriter and open a vein’ – and he was right.

My words, my words – they strip me bare. They make more of an exhibition of my soul than Gypsy Rose Lee ever showed on a stage. My heart, my soul, laid bare, made naked; silly and somewhat obscene, like an overdone chicken splayed open in a roasting pan. So very naked, my skin falls away and shows the world my soul – oh, yes, my words have much more courage than I do.


3 thoughts on “courage and bravery

  1. sarahwbartlett says:

    I just received an email from a reader of this blog saying “I just read and was deeply moved by MR’s peace on the courage it takes for a writer to bare her/his soul. She obviously not only has the courage but also the talent to do it.” Thank you for sharing these words; I’ll be sure to pass them along. They will mean a lot to her!


  2. stormdrac says:

    I totally agree with you, our words have power. However, they also, when we write and share them, give us power. The power to be heard, to be seen, to become less invisible to others. We are no longer the woman behind the man, or the mother behind the children, or even the daughter behind her mother, we become the author, our words give us strength to reach out and touch others. The strength to make them say, “Hey, I have felt that way.” or “I have experienced exactly that feeling.” They see us, feel what we feel and recognise that we too are humans.


    • sarahwbartlett says:

      Wonderful to read your comment here, Stormdrac. I love ‘we are no longer the woman behind the man . . .’, all those ways in which we as women often remain hidden to others. And that words can open eyes and hearts to our shared humanity. Beautifully written. Thanks so much for sharing!


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