“Write like your family is dead. “

That’s what she told us, the chipper little creative writing professor and NY Times Best Selling author. It was my first year in Rosemont College’s new MFA program. I was loving the Summer Saturdays on the Mainline. The rich green of the beautiful campus was a perfect setting for budding writers. It was well worth the 90 minute commute every weekend.

“Write like your family is dead.”

Though it was 10 years ago, her directive  sticks with me. Are there poems I won’t let breathe air out of fear of what my parents will say? My siblings? Cousins? Friends?

Harrisburg’s Storytelling Grand Slam, Untitled

Last week I shared a story at a storytelling slam on the topic “Unexpected.” My 8 minute story was about the unexpected message I got from my inner voice, which was suddenly sounding very much like the comedian, Monique. My spirit guides are tricky. It was a way to get a message to me about the woman I once referred to as my “ghetto sister,” my half-sister Kisha.

I tried to be vulnerable and share my own culpability in our estrangement. The overall theme of the story was about accepting people for who and where they are, but knowing her, she would have hated it. Hate seems to be central to her core, and I am usually the target.

The story got a huge round of applause and lots of laughs. Random people were yelling out her name. But for once, I didn’t let someone else hold me back and I wrote the story. I shared the story. And although I didn’t win the slam, I felt a little bit more free.

Are there stories, poems or art that you have tucked away behind your mind’s eye because someone in your world wouldn’t understand or accept your truth?

What would happen if you obeyed your muse and set it free?