Just attended an open mic night. It made me realize a few things.
The first speaker was an old school print journalist talking about the case that haunts him. The murder trial that still lives within his head, unsolved, the pieces never quite fitting. I spent most of the time he spoke listening past the words, to how fascinating a mind can be that is trained so thoroughly to remove all personal commentary, to corroborate, substantiate or repudiate all data until the facts, nothing but the facts, remain... I admired his discipline, but I found myself wishing he'd allowed himself the freedom, in this, his personal musings, to speak his opinions and to truly revel in the abandon possible in responsibility-free writing.
There was a fantastic zombie ghost story set in the depression, that I will very likely buy. There was a wizened older author whose writing bites and cants its way forward like a well trained , urging you into interest in historical subject you might otherwise have ignored, and whose teeth unsettle me. Like he's something else pretending to be human. I can't explain it, and it doesn't strike me until he smiles. Then my bones grow cold. But his writing shows a deep and considered understanding of human interaction and altercations.
There was a stand up comedienne who focused on height-related jokes and made everyone groan and chuckle.
But what hit me hardest was that there were several young people who spoke, full of the various dichotomies of youth. Lithe, vigorous promising minds, as yet unhumbled by the usual hardships, and voices so ready to speak with strength that knows no better than to stand alone. I loved listening to the flow of bright fresh thought, as they grimaced and stammered over the odd word with the thready timbre of temerity, the usual "excuse me" and "sorry" as stage fright kicked in, and then released, and then magic happened.
I wanted to interrupt to tell them to let nothing kill the flow of your words. Let nothing dull the keen blade of the youthful urgency of soliloquy, of unfolding meaning into words at the raw bleeding edge of their lives. There will be only so many opportunities to bask in the cool spring waters of the ingenue.
I grew nostalgic for a time I'm not sure ever existed. When I, too, was taut and ready, while conversely nervous and unsure. When I had not yet formed the first callouses of a life lived earnestly. And, while I appreciate the brevity and clarity that my writer's soul has attained from age, I do occasionally miss the urgency of youth.
The simple truth is that I wouldn't trade that for what I've got now. I prefer to sit back and listen to the variety of thoughts that cascase from fresh minds as someone new worries a story into being.
And there's what I realized. I write now from a place of comfortable wisdom. And I'm good with that. I don't need to be the one writing the painful urgent clarion cry of youth. I am fine with merely being the one who finds the single perfect sentence that sums it up, and pressing Ctrl+A on the rest of it, and deleting it because my editor wants only 1500 words.