I Had To Tell You

I have tried really hard to keep my new project a secret. In thinking about sharing what I am working on I decided it best to just not say anything, then if I fail no one will know!

I am just not a “keep things to myself” kind of person. Don’t get me wrong, I can keep a secret if someone asks me to. I would never betray a confidence. Of course, it is irritating to me when I so carefully keep a secret for someone and then I see that it was posted on social media- by the person who acted all secretive and hush-hush!

I have a few people in my life who find it necessary to keep everything secret. And I mean everything. They then tell me something way after the fact and sometimes my thought is “well, I wish I had known so I could have helped” but more often my thought is “Really? You thought that needed to be hidden?” Oh well, to each his own!

I talked to someone the other day about how hard it was to not be able to blog about the process I am going through during this journey. It has been very interesting to me how this process has affected me. When I told this person that I was keeping it all bottled up so as to fail gracefully and alone, their comment was that maybe I would work harder and feel more accountable if I was sharing the work as I went along.

That seemed more genuine to me. To hide in the shadows out of fear of failure is not really me. Putting it out there and then either succeeding with the help of all of you or failing as a lesson to us all seems more honest.

For most of my life I have loved to write. It is not anything I ever thought seriously about but it certainly has been something I have done consistently. I can write too much on any given subject and enjoy doing it!

In talking to people over the years, I realize that my life has been very unusual. Growing up in the zoo, surrounded by animals, people and stories, I knew that someday I would have to share those stories.

Several times I have said I was going to start writing them down, and I probably should have back then when the memories were fresher on my mind. Every time I would start, I would get a few pages in and stop.

I kept looking for the formula, the way I was supposed to write it. Chronologically? Arranged by type of animal like the zoo exhibits themselves? Do I write an outline first like we were taught in school? Do I do research up front or after I finish? Do I try to get every story corroborated by three sources or 5?

The worry, the rules, the norms stopped me every time.

And then a couple of people complimented this blog out of the blue and I thought how odd that was since I just tell my stories, my truth. I don’t follow the rules. I didn’t consult anyone when I started, I don’t plan what I am going to say, I have yet to write any outline before blogging. I just talk to whoever is out there listening. Sometimes it is about theatre, sometimes about something I saw on TV, sometimes it is about my faith or a sermon I heard. It is always my feelings, thoughts and memories told as honestly as I know how.

I finally realized why I had not had any success writing down my zoo stories. I was too worried about the rules, too worried about what others might think or say and too consumed with the fear of failing.

So I decided to just write. No outline, no time table, no order to follow. As stories come to me I just write them. I tell them from my perspective, my memory, my feelings. I stay as true to what I remember as possible.

I have had stories that made me sick to write. The actual queasiness made me step away from my computer and not write again for a few days. Coming back to finish the story was difficult.

Other stories were written through tears and although I pushed through, again I needed a day to regroup before I continued.

Writing has made me see some things in a new light, to reassess my feelings about events and people that I have held for over 50 years. It has made me think less of some people and more for others.

It is difficult when you are so engrossed in what you are writing, totally encased in the time and place on the page, that when the phone rings or someone walks in talking about the here and now you feel lost. It takes time to pull yourself to the present and realize where you are and what is being said. It is impossible for the other person to know what it takes to come out of your story and be present with them.

I have written about half of what I want to share in the last few weeks, and for the most part each night after I have spent a few hours writing I have felt positive, energetic and accomplished. Even if this goes nowhere, it will not be a failure. I have taken the time to reexamine a life that was strange and captivating- my life.

I know that I will rearrange stories, double check facts and edit for many months after I get it all written down. I know that the doubts will fill me many times in the weeks to come. I don’t know if anyone will ever read what I have to say.

I do know that I have something to say, so I am going to try and forget the insecurities and just say it. If no one cares, so be it. For now I will use this as a way to stay on course, now that I know you all know. It will be part of my motivation, but the real motivation has to come from within.

Someone smart told me yesterday that they have to do the work they are doing. It just has to come out. If someone appreciates it or even pays for it, that is great. It doesn’t validate it because someone else gives it value though. It is validated when this person puts their heart and soul into creating it.

So now you know- I am writing a book. And occasionally I will have to rant and share about it here. I want to try to blog more consistently, but this is going to take most of my free time for awhile. I will do my best to do both, not that anyone cares.

Wait a minute! Didn’t I just say it didn’t matter what others. . . Oh well, old habits are hard to break! Back to work!

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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.