It's often easily swayed: by another writer, by one's own emotions, but the expectations of the audience. Easily swayed, so subtly. One could swiftly lose her voice in the gentle lean of silent persuasion.
Four times last week, I heard the same message, over and over: Tricia, don't lose your voice.
"I'm praying for Tricia, specifically that she will continue to write with authenticity. It's easy to write for the audience, to write what they want to hear. But what we love is what she is - authentic. So I am praying she doesn't lean in any direction but toward authenticity."
"I lit a candle for Tricia today before the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In that depiction, the heart of Jesus is exposed. I lit a candle for her, reminding me to pray all day, because she has chosen to venture this journey with her heart exposed as well. And Jesus knows implicitly the pain and scrutiny that comes with living life with one's heart exposed. I'm praying for her."
"Tricia, you don't have to explain God to us. It's not your job to explain his intentions or why he took your husband. So never let yourself feel that pressure. But please, keep talking to us."
"Keep it real, Tricia. Don't give in to pressure for positive attitude, morals to the story, or legalistic guidelines. Keep it real."
When the same message comes at me from many different avenues, my sensitivity heightens. This is usually a message God wants me to hear, and he affirms and confirms it through unexpected venues, surprising voices, and agreeing sources.
So, here I am, promising to keep my voice.
And that means these words won't always be pretty. I won't intend to put a neat and tidy bow on that which is messy, confusing, endless, and without answer. If my heart is reeling in the depths, I won't pretend otherwise.
But neither will I write with grief when my heart spills with joy. I'll write what I feel today, whatever is on my heart. And if I laughed today, my writing will show it. Even if 'widow', by anyone's definition, should reflect constant, endless sadness.
When it's sunny here, we'll let it shine. And on my rainy days, bring your umbrella. Because I'll take you with me if you want to go. And there might be some splashing involved.
A writer's authenticity: a wild goose to chase.
We'll find our way.