I find the writing community wonderfully and surprisingly generous. I think we all battle with the lie of scarcity – if one writer succeeds, that means less success for the rest of us. But the writers I’ve met and interacted with don’t live out that lie. Instead, they help each other toward success, offer tips, share stories, challenge and motivate each other.
I read an article once in which Jason Fagone said he’d be willing to talk with any aspiring writer who had a question about writing nonfiction boolproposals. I took him up on it, emailed, and he responded in just a few hours with tips and an example of one of his successful proposals.
Others further along than me have offered suggestions on queries, tips on how to pitch to particular editors at certain magazines, or answered my endless questions, either over email or coffee. Writers have retweeted, liked, shared, and emailed stories of mine.
Dan Maurer consistently highlights other writers and spreads their words far and wide.
Asad Hussein lives in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya and recently had an excellent article in The Guardian. And the New York Times! I like to say, ‘I knew him when…’ We met over emails and blog posts and editing. Watching his work grow in strength and reach is one of my favorite things about working on this blog – those kinds of connections.
I would like to continue to use this space to share the stories and work of others. So I started thinking of another guest post series. I’ve done a few:
- Painting Pictures, about Third Culture Kids
- Flaneuring, about walking through our own neighborhoods
- Let’s Talk about Hijab, about well, the hijab.
What’s the new topic, you ask?
Recently I listened to the Runner’s World podcast, to an episode called Running While Female. I had seen the episode in my list and avoided it but never erased it. I knew I would have to listen at some point, I just didn’t want to. I knew what it contained.
I was right. It was about the harassment women experience while running. I had to actually turn it off a few times because it was hitting so close to home. I cried. It took me a long time to get through the whole thing. Normally I listen to podcasts while cooking, cleaning, and running. This one? I sat down at the table and just listened.
This visceral reaction didn’t come out of nowhere. It came out of being touched, chased, grabbed, groped, stoned, punched, ogled, insulted, mocked, cursed. People have made throat-slitting motions at me. They have said I am the first one they would kill. They have mentioned my unmentionables.
I keep running. Partly because these things, at least not the worst of them, don’t happen that often. Partly because not running feels harder than dealing with this junk. Partly because in running, I find my strong. In doing what people seem to think I shouldn’t be doing, I am the victor. Not them. Not the harassment.
I wanted to know about what you experience when you do something that, because of who you are, where you are, or what you are doing, carries with it a unique challenge. I want to know how you respond, if you feel strong, if you feel victorious, or if you are still struggling to find that strength. If you are at all like me, it is both/and.
Running While Female. Driving While Black. Traveling While Pregnant. Writing While Uneducated. Studying While Working. Working While Foreign. Blogging While an Introvert. Eating While Dieting. Writing While in a Refugee Camp. Writing While in the Suburbs. Staying Married While Being an Alcoholic. Staying Married While He/She is an Alcoholic…
I don’t know. I have no idea what your stories in this realm might be. They don’t need to fit this paradigm of ____ while _____. But that is the gist.
Sharing stories helps us be brave and vulnerability makes us strong. These are stories of victory, even if we don’t yet feel victorious.
What’s it called?
The title of the series is: Strong in the Broken. I don’t mean the broken places of ourselves, like the Ernest Hemingway line from A Farewell to Arms: The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.
I mean parts of this world are broken. The parts that harass and terrorize and damage. Sometimes those parts are in us or are us, sometimes they are external to us. And in those places, places that aren’t all green grass and chocolate ice cream, we can still be strong. Or we can at least step toward being strong.
We can keep running.
How can you participate?
Send your stories. Email me at rachelpiehjones(at)gmail(dot)com if you have questions or want to submit a post.
I can’t pay (publishing while impoverished, perhaps?) but I can offer a wide, global readership and a byline with links to your own website and social media pages.