Lately I am going back to my writings, going back to the beginning, digging to find myself. In this experiment to find who I am, I am finding who I always was. I'm on the way to who I am.
Some of the entries really hit me when I read them again. One of those is from this past summer. This is when everything combined to make the perfect storm. Forced to face what I was doing, I came head to head with the problem. This is a moment in time I am so glad I captured. Thank you for being a part of the journey with me.
July 9, 2012
So over the weekend it came to me in a rush.
I am in my own way. As a writer, my biggest obstacle is getting out of the way. I am worried about all of the things that make a good worry wart (and sometimes a good writer) and things that feed my excuses bucket - if I write an essay am I now an essay writer? If I write a song, am I now a songwriter? If I write humor, will no one ever take me seriously? What if my humor hits a flat note, what if no one thinks I am funny? What if I write tons of stuff and no one ever ever cares? What if I write and critics say 'It has been done before'.?
The answer is- of course it has. Writing is many things to many people. To me it is a statement of my experience. Telling my life and the struggle I see. Choosing the right words to tease the give a shit right out of you so that you get sucked in and read my experience and care. Our experience is all we know. To think no one has ever felt the way that you do or faced the same pressures is the mindset of a 13 year old girl with a celebrity crush.
Of course it has been written. But it has not been written by you. Mural artists don't say "well, someone else already painted a touching ghetto scene so there's really nothing to add to that art" and just go home, cans of spray paint hanging out of baggy pockets with a glum look on their face. No.
They paint their experience. They ignore the criticism sure to come their way. With the piranhas circling, breath baited, waiting to make light of the experience. Of the art. And they can't hear the critics because they are busy shaking up the next can of color to show you how the world looks to them.
My words are my paint. I have seen the same things as others. I have read the same books. Why should my writing seek to mirror the style or rhythm or even dialogue as another? Or seek to stay so far away from anything anyone else has ever done until it is not even my experience anymore, just a ghost of me trying to please someone I have never met and avoid criticism I have never heard or read about writing I HAVE NEVER WRITTEN.
Here is my stand. This is my writing. This is my life. This is how I see it. You may not like it and you may loathe it. Know that I won't base my judgement of myself (or you for that matter) on your feelings. For that is your experience, and you are free to share it. Even if someone else has said it already. Even if you have nothing new to add. Your voice is just as important. Equal. What a concept.
I have great things to say. I have a crazy family with a crazy upbringing. I have had dozens of jobs. I am funny and interesting and interested. I do not need a journalism degree to write. I don't need an English degree or plaques on my wall, or distinguished credentials or your approval. I don't need to reference amazing authors and works of art to let you know that right now, in this moment, I am telling you my story.
That has always been the problem. What am I writing? Am I writing my story? Of course. Even when I write fiction, especially when I write a song or humor, its my story. Not my life story even, it could be the story of today. Or that one day. Or a hopeful one day. Its a story of what I see/have seen/can see/will see. But only I can see it. I am the only one that will see this exact thing this exact way.
So I write. I write everywhere. On scraps of paper to make days pass, on notebook paper to let it out before it eats me alive. On screens when I should be doing anything else. I write to forget what is important. Then I write a list so I don't forget what's not.
I have always written to relieve the pressure. Its always been a steam valve. What if I take the lid off? The pressure all along has been placed there by living a life as a terrible compromise. One I should not have made, did not have the right to make- I promised myself that I will be better than my parents, that I will live a fuller, better life than the one that was handed to me. That I will work hard at a respectable job that makes sense, that I will be married, own a home, go on vacations, pay my taxes, wear sensible shoes and not have anything stick out too much. Lest it get cut down.
Ah.....there it is. To not stand out too much.
But then I see myself in the mirror. I catch my real self. She is shaking her head, almost imperceptably. A sideways nod. Hmm.. I see you are doing this again she says.
But I was not born to blend in. Born in the middle and determined not to be needy. To make it at all costs, to go to college. To do everything to ensure a stable and secure life. That is what is threatened now. Not my ability to eat. Not the roof over my head. What is threatened is my status quo. My careful picture. The show I show to others. The other side of the curtain. Security in the eyes of the world. And really, myself.
I can write. I can take my (or someone else's) experience and translate it. This is what I have done for as long as I have been able. I always wrote to run away, to write what I couldn't say. To scream the words on paper that would make your ears bleed if I said them out loud. This has always been my refuge. In bad relationships, when shit got real or when I am bored at my aimless jobs.
Because its what I am good at. For once, I don't need validation on that.
I once read - pay attention to what you do when you are procrastinating. That is what you should be doing. Well, then I should be writing. I should be listening to other people, helping them to write their stories. Helping them to become what they need to be. In the process, I will become what I am.