Broken, Brave, & Badass

dolls-pink The Invictus Writers Vol.4 gathered this morning at The Cup, the lone coffee shop in Ball State University’s student village. While our project isn’t slated to begin until next August, the truth is that neither the nine women involved in this year’s project nor I want to wait that long.

Invictus is like that.

Today’s meeting was the informal kickoff, which is the first time the writers really get to introduce themselves and talk about the themes and stories each hopes to tell. This is never an easy because few people want to talk about their own life, fewer want to talk about the hardest moments of their life, and fewer still want to share those details with complete strangers.

Yet that’s what is asked. The writers were given instructions to think about the moments in each of their lives when everything changed for them, and they were asked to share a few of the stories that explain why those moments were so significant.

As we began our round-table discussion at 8:30 am, trepidation pushed down upon the group. Going first in my projects is a badge of honor. It’s also no fun because I give so few instructions. Emily Cunningham began by saying she didn’t know what she wanted to write. She didn’t have a story yet.

“Why are you here,” I asked.

“I want to tell the stories of people who don’t have the ability tell stories on their own. I want to help people to be heard,” Emily said.

“So what do you want people to hear from you,” I asked. “What was the moment when everything changed for you?”

As is always the case, she had quite a story to tell. And with that, we were off.

It was inspiring to watch these young writers gingerly take their first steps as a group, testing the boundaries of what they can share and what they can write. They told stories of alienation, loneliness, and fear. More than one prefaced her story with “I’ve never told anyone about this.” Tears streamed down the cheeks of the writers.

Yet with each shared story, the women found friends in the writing darkness.

You won’t hear many of these stories for another 15 months. I’m sorry about that. I wish I could promise you a quicker turnaround, dear reader. Rest assured that you should just enjoy to the wait as your read our blog. If these young women write the stories half as well as they told their stories, it will be well worth your while.