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home1I rediscovered my writing journey and followed its path. It led to a friend for guidance and advice. She works at a faith-based-publishing company and has authored several books and articles. We first met over a decade ago when my wife and I were coaching her daughter on a city recreation soccer team. Since that time we maintained sporadic contact, usually by way of casual encounters at soccer matches, chance meetings in restaurants or the grocery store.

We had an initial meeting to discuss my writing. After a few follow-up emails, I was set free like a small bird taking flight into an unknown world. However, after a many months on my own, I felt it was time to return to the nest and learn again.

With her typical grace, she again found time to fit me into her busy schedule. I was blessed with the opportunity to spend another hour with her. We chatted about our lives, our kids, work…just catching up. Gradually our discussion turned to writing, both hers and mine. I enjoyed listening as she described her triumphs, as well as her struggles. She explained where she finds inspiration and what gets in her way. She, too, has other writers she turns to for help when she gets “stuck.”  Now the circle was made whole as I returned to her for help with my work.

She listened intently as I explained my current project, as if I might be the next Pulitzer Prize winning author. My questions became her quest to find the best answers. She volunteered to do some research for me, even though I knew her spare time was limited. We discussed my first piece more fully and she gratefully offered to proof read and edit the first draft, as well as offering to provide feedback about any possibility of publishing the work.

As we talked she mentioned the feeling of exposure she feels when she puts her thoughts to paper, as if she is giving a piece of her heart away. She spoke of the risk and vulnerability that she feels writing produces, explaining how this risk can become its own prison, preventing her from sharing her words, and herself.

Kozzi-two-heart-shaped-papers-with-paperclip-883 X 588As I gave her the flash drive that contained my first manuscript, she said, “I was giving her a part of my heart.”

This was particularly true, given the content of that first piece of my work. However I am no longer afraid to share my heart. As I have journeyed in life, I have become willing to share what I write on my pages. In doing so, I have learned if you are afraid to share your heart, you become afraid to love and afraid to live.

I have chosen to expose my heart and reap the rewards in the smile of a friend.