I haven’t been honest in my writing. I have avoided the truth at every turn, written about safe topics and superficial feelings. It’s easy to write book reviews or answer silly quizzes or post pictures of craft projects. Those are perfectly reasonable things to post on a personal blog, but alone it is not all that personal.
I sometimes scratch the surface of deeper things; daily struggles, health and physiological issues. But I hold back, never cutting beyond the skin. Talking about the fact I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression isn’t hard. Telling my readers, today I was frozen by anxiety with irrational fears running through my head is terrifying. Equally frightful is the prospect of explaining happiness and joy.
Hell, I often don’t admit to myself how I’m feeling, but instead keep pushing forward.
Pushing forward is great. “Doing” is a strategy I fully embrace. For 2012, I made a to-do list rather than resolutions. Sitting around thinking is about the worst thing a person like me can do, but a busy schedule isn’t a cure. Nor, ironically, is a happy life. Is that annoying or what?
In many years of self-examination, I have found I don’t figure out anything by thinking. Talking, even to my nearest and dearest, doesn’t do the trick either. I can’t tell anyone what I don’t know or understand. Since I was a kid, I have articulated myself to myself best by writing. My journals from those years are gone, paper and pen are no longer my native tools. A keyboard is where, if I free myself, my thoughts flow best. I don’t know what is coming before I start typing which in itself frustrates me. I crave a peek at the big picture.
Opening a Word document, keeping a journal on my computer like I did on paper off and on for most of my life, would be one solution to working out what’s on my mind and heart. No doubt, it would be helpful. There have been times I have done just that and certainly in the course of my life I will do so again. But that solution only solves half of the problem.
What I’ve realized lately is being a chicken shit blogger has more consequences than a boring blog and low traffic. It represents giving up on my dream of being a writer. I have accepted easily the fact it’s harder than ever to break into traditional publishing. I don’t care one lick about being on the New York Times Bestsellers List or even on Amazon’s list. I care about filling a blank screen with words destined to be read. Without the second part of the equation, it’s literary masturbation. It’s a dichotomy; one writes for oneself, because it’s necessary, but putting the words away in a shoe-box under the bed doesn’t satisfy the writer’s needs. Writing is a conversation as much as sitting across the table talking is a conversation.
In staying safe, I have failed as a writer. The truth is the only thing worth reading. That is as true in fiction as in personal writing. As a personal blogger, I aspire to the best of autobiographical essays. I aspire to challenge readers, but not half as much as I challenge myself.
It is not in isolation I have come to these conclusions. As I find to be the case when I’m struggling with something I need to do but don’t want to do, life, the universe and everything puts signposts in my path too bright to ignore.
First, I must credit my cousin Sarah, better known under her pen name, Ivy Marie, who’s been writing her heart out for a while now online, has published a book, and is brave enough to tell the truth, even when it’s ugly, scary or unflattering. Not only has she found her voice with no formal training, she’s managed to make money doing it. I am inspired by her persistence and the sheer volume of words she’s written since she began her first blog.
After that, in no particular order, are some bloggers I deeply admire for the traits I want to infuse into my blog. Jessica Gottlieb wrote this post. The Gal Herself who chronically her life with such honesty it’s easy to forget she does it anonymously.
Dan of Single Dad Laughing writes bravely about the very meaning of life and happiness. Seriously, his top posts page has something for everyone or start with Who’s Life is It Anyway.
Of course, and always, there are writers who have influenced me for decades. Issac Asimov and Madeleine L’Engle top the list which includes so many fine, brave writers. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them, nor would I hold the dream I can’t shake loose (I’ve tried) of walking in their footsteps.
I am afraid of the consequences of digging deeper, but I am also afraid of the consequences of silence. If I’m honest, I am more afraid of the consequences of silence. Not sure what’s coming as a result of this honesty I vow to pursue, but I know it’s necessary.