We tend to think that starting is the hardest part of the story.
I think it’s finishing.
Because along the way you will get tired of the thing you started. You will doubt it and resent it and wonder at it and want to change it, edit it, scrap it altogether. Then you will remember that you love it, are changed by it, cherish it and want to see it grow up into something that outgrows you.
So, if you’re brave you press on.
Tired knees and prickly thorns in your socks. Sentences that don’t make sense or stick or run on or need to be cut.
But you press on.
I can feel the blackjacks that would prick into my shoes on every single walk through the African bush. I can feel the flies buzzing in my ears and the sweat dripping down between my shoulder blades. My breasts.
I can feel the middle.
This pressing on and in and finding shade and shelter and adventure.
I wrote the first Five Minute Friday post on January 13, 2011. You can click here to read it and find out how it started on a whim and I never could have imagined it would still be going.
What a pilgrimage it’s been. What a ride. What a wild meeting of minds and spirits and writers who believe that they were given a message no matter how many people end up reading it.
It’s outgrown my wildest expectations.
We write on.
We adventure on.
But I’m past the middle now.
I’m well past. I’m thirsty and my tank has run empty.
And I’ve seen the finish line coming up ahead for months now. Like a great, grey baobab I see it soaring into the sky, nodding down at me. It knows my leg of the journey is done.
All wise with seeing what the baboons in its branches miss. That no story ever ends – it simply turns the page until a new sunrise sings its way across the veld.
And new voices take up the story.
Because no story is ever completely yours to begin with. We inherit them. Along with our DNA and our dreams. We inherit the stories that we live. And some of the best ones are passed down to us.
Man I love this place.
This wide open space of voices and the echoes of hundreds of women cheering each other on. A battle cry of encouragement.
You can’t edit that.
You can’t erase it.
You did that. You and me and her and the woman who only writes every other month.
We wrote beauty like fireworks across the dark sky of the Internet.
We wrote a love story.
To the small places of the day – the five minutes that become art in our hands – when we put them on paper.
We did that together.
(Have I got to the part yet where I tell you that I love you?)
Because it’s time for me to finish now. As much as it aches to write that.
I’m certain of it. I wasn’t yet in February. Or in April. But here in July, I am sure.
It’s my finish and someone else’s beginning. Because stories they just keep going as long as there’s a reader and a writer. As long as there’s five minutes to snatch right there in the middle of your extraordinary ordinary.
I’ve prayed and I’ve thought and I’ve pondered. And I have found the right friend to come and keep hosting a space for your weekly five minutes of writing. And I will become the reader now. And I love that I can sit down in the shade and rest while she leads you all on.
(Did I get to the part where I tell you that she lived my South Africa story for years? Because she did.)
(And what about the part where I share that she’s in Michigan now – my other home away from Africa home. Because she is.)
(Did I tell you the part of the story where I am sad but also I am certain? Because I am.)
Meet my friend Kate Motaung – my word sister, my fellow lover of Five Minute Friday and women and the courage it takes to put their words down on paper – she will be taking the baton now and running with it.
I hope you continue to run with her.
I hope you continue to pour your hearts out in five minutes.
To challenge yourself. To turn off the critic in your head. To remember you already are a writer; no one needs to name you what you already are.
Next week will be my last week hosting Five Minute Friday.
(This is the part where my breath catches in my throat).
But I am not afraid.
I am grateful.
And I love me a good, strong finish.
So between now and then – won’t you click here and visit my friend Kate? My word sister. And your new, biggest cheerleader. Because on August 8th she will be the new host of Five Minute Friday and I will be the most excited because God is always making all things new – even small corners of the Internet.