May 21, 2014

Daring Myself To Write

Sylvia Plath pushing doubt aside to write
"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." - Sylvia Plath

Some time ago I came across this great (and somewhat dated) piece from the site BlogHer and it touched on something bothersome called "insecure writing". I bookmarked it in order to save it for a day when I would need it. Well, today is that day.

Here's a stand-out portion:
"I want to write words. But I'm afraid. I'm a wimp. I'm plagued with insecurities. [...] I want to write. But I hold back. I hold back so much, so many times. I've written and deleted post after post after post. Too chickenshit to hit publish. I want to stop worrying and just start writing again."

I could have written this myself. Let me explain...


There's a scene in the 2004 Cameron Crowe flick, Almost Famous where music journalist, Lester Bangs (played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) tells the main character, William (played by Patrick Fugit), to stake his reputation on being "honest and unmerciful". Those two words sort of transformed my ideal about writing and how to approach it and apply it with my own work.

Except I didn't always feel so 'honest and unmerciful'.

After I graduated from college, I fell in a sticky web of unemployment and depression. All the spunk of my college reporting days got zapped out of me, and as a chaser, I became extremely insecure. I began to worry constantly and over-think everything that I put on the page growing into a scared-y cat scribe that was afraid to meow out. I dodged writing projects that seemed daunting. I deleted essays and posts that exposed deeper parts of myself. If I even attempted to write I felt it was better to give the 'sweet girl' neutral version of things so to not rattle the cage too much. I thought for a while that playing "Miss Nice Girl" was how to do the best writing, this was the writing that got your foot in the door. A lot of my early reviews and articles suffered with this sunny side of the street sheen. I praised things when I felt the opposite. I would skim the surface of a topic, as to not dig in further and ruffle feathers. I was afraid of having someone either criticize me for my opinions, or expunge the fear for every writer which is to have readers unable to understand me whenever I did speak from a deep place.

This might surprise some people, especially those who know my writing for other various places including my own music blog, Audio Diva. How could I be insecure when I pumped out over 1800+ pieces for five years? Well, I confess that underneath all those words I typed I had bouts with insecurity and worry, and yes, it was stupid of me to feel that way.

But I'm not alone.

All writers feel inadequacy and doubt --- that is the fuel to our words and they are dangerous when lit. So as I held the burning flame over my work, I asked myself, do you really like writing? Do I really like getting up every day and pounding out words and re-writing, editing, crying, laughing, and being completely insane over little black letters? The answer was always 'yes'. There was an excuse for me to be indecisive and scared because I was growing as a writer, as a person, and the merging of those two things wasn't easy or clear, and well, they never will be, but that's okay. Still I didn't need to be scared or doubtful over something that brought me joy. So I gave myself a break, gave myself credit for putting myself out there and "opening veins". I also stopped trying to appease everyone else. Not everybody is going to like you or what you stand for, and that's just life. So I decided to take chances in my writing, stop hearing the negative chatter, open up and really pushhhhh to do the best I could and well, things changed, are changing and all for the better.

Yet, I still didn't feel completely satisfied, completely secure, and that was because I realized I didn't want to be narrowed down to just being one type of writer. I had other things to say besides why music and its culture rocks my face off --- and they needed to be said. I tested writing somewhat longer, more introspective pieces on Audio Diva, and really challenged myself to look beyond the music notes and get 'into the music' so to speak. That was when I began to feel better about writing things that came deep from within and not being frightened of sharing those thoughts with people.

It took some time to get to this, and well, here I am.

The idea for this blog has been stopped and started more times than I care to admit, but it has been four years in the making. Yes. Four years of changing the name, changing the focus, changing the got darn post header font. I had a lot of things to say, but I never knew how to say it. I had time, but not time enough. The eternal tug-of-war, right? I once wrote on it periodically over the course of two years, writing over a 100 posts that never saw any eyes but my tired ones. While it was productive, I was kidding myself. That is not how you grow as a writer and observer. You must share your work, must expose yourself, and not covet work just for you and you alone.

Bit by bit I'm learning to be more "honest and unmerciful" and not apologize for it. Push the publish button, write that dumb line or two, make a fool of myself, get messy, make mistakes (bless you Magic School Bus' Miss Frizzle), get the words out without worrying about the fussy linguistics or trying to make it oh so perfect. Write because I wanted to release the knots resting inside of me. Write with no hesitations and over-thinking. Write because I wanted to in the first place.

So I'm considering this blog yet another space for me to write and at this time I don't know where things are going to go, but that is okay as I now know that the water will be just fine as when I dare myself to writeI know can do no wrong.

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