Every writer lives life standing on a precipice. We stand at the edge of the cliff, clutching our manuscripts in our hands in a white-knuckled grip. Our eyes staring out into the distance, staring into the abyss. We assume that if we let our pages slip from our fingers, they won’t take flight. We imagine each page taking the fall down a deep canyon. We see them slowly drifting to their destination, never to be read because those on the other side of the chasm aren’t willing to reach out a hand and pull them away from the gaping hole of obscurity.
A lot of people think that living on the edge means having sexual encounters with some guy they met on the Internet (or nowadays on a dating app). While looking for love in all the most interesting of places, and some of them downright suspect, can be harrowing, it’s more foolish than living on the edge.
Some people’s definition of living on the edge encompasses drinking, doing drugs, and having a ruckus party with loud music and cops coming to shut it down. Sorry, that was never my idea of fun anymore than taking the chance dating someone I don’t know and possibly becoming the next special on the eleven o’clock news. I can just see the blazing headlines now. “Blind Woman Sexually Assaulted by Unidentified Assailant.” The article would start something like: woman, 43, who can’t see her shadow, had the nerve to date someone from the internet and now wonders why she can’t identify him. Okay, maybe the reporters would be a little more PC, but why should they? I should have known better, right? Well, that would be my mother’s line anyway.
Living on the edge isn’t about the stupid mistakes people make, like bumping into the wall that I should know is there and spilling whatever drink I have in my hand, forgetting where I spilled it by the time I get back with the cleaning cloth. Then finding out later, as my shoe makes this smacking sound as I lift it from the sticky spot, that I didn’t clean the right spot after all. Can you tell this happens to me rather frequently?
In any case, living on the edge is about the risks we take. Risk-taking isn’t impulsively walking across the street on a green light and getting hit by the first car that comes along by a driver that’s not paying attention. Risk-taking isn’t going bungee jumping and depending on the cord to remain solvent and not drop you unceremoniously on your rather fragile scull instead of jerking you back up into the air.
No, I’m talking about the kind of risk-taking that makes your soul quake and your knees nock. It’s that risk that a man takes when he asks a woman to marry him. It’s the risk that a woman takes when she tells the man she loves how she feels about him.
Everything in your world stops. It’s as if there’s no air. Your lungs even freeze. Everything in the world depends on the response you receive. You’re waiting with bated breath.
And even though, you know you’ll live through a rejection, you know a part of you will never be the same again if you receive one. Something fundamental within you, about you, is about to change. The answer of yes or no, will cement the change and determine which turn the change will take.
And so, my idea of living on the edge is standing at the edge of that cliff. My wonderfully written manuscript, or so I thought, clutched in my trembling fingers. “I have my author’s bio written, see?” I want to say. “I have a whole story here: beginning, middle, and end. Can’t you see how brilliant I’ve become? I’ve grown so much. I researched, wrote, edited and edited again. I put a cover letter together. I am ready. Are you ready?”
Still, there’s a part of me that knows it’s not going to be good enough, but the pages I sat over, writing, suffered over, editing, prayed over, formatting and gathering, and finally trusting my work to another soul other than mine and my maker’s, are going out into the world.
Without a second thought, I leap from the edge, hoping my pages will fly on their own and just one individual on the other side will find my work half as brilliant as I occasionally think it is.
Come and leap with me, as we live together on the edge.
What is life on the edge like for you?
Clennell Anthony resides in Florida and was a storyteller before she could write. Her specialties are prose, angst, delightful passion, and romance. She has a degree in journalism from Georgia Southern University and a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing from Lesley University. She is also a write-in host at the Writers’ Mastermind.
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