taking risks

Some students have asked me if writing about going to jail is a valid topic for a personal narrative essay. I think I know what they’re really asking: Will you judge me if I write about this experience?

Writing honestly about one’s life takes guts. These students have the courage. I know they do. They also know–somehow they know in their cells–that sharing their writing will heal some part of themselves and their readers. I can see in their eyes that they want to write about this experience. But they want my blessing. I can give that. I can, however, give them no guarantee–that they won’t be judged by some readers, that their writing will give them peace.

I can guarantee that if they write to the best of their abilities, and if they write honestly, they will be moved–their readers will be moved. Somebody’s going to learn something. Shift will happen. Tiny blessings will spark, like those June fireflies that pinpoint nano-seconds of brightness in the dusk of summer.

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