There are so many kinds of writing out there but part of me keeps holding myself up to some expectation that I need to be writing a certain kind of novel or play. That I can’t write too much memoir. It’s self indulgent. That I can’t write about certain topics too much. That I can’t do this and I can’t do that. So many fucking can’ts in one’s mind. Pretty soon you can’t go anywhere or do anything. I’m fucking done with it. Sure I appreciate knowing what other people think about my writing but during the act of creation itself you can’t take all those people along for the ride.
That’s the lonely but also the exhilarating part of writing. You are alone with your mind. But the fun part is you get to trust where it will take you. It’s like lucid dreaming. You’re both in control of where you want to go and yet something inside you propels you and gives you ideas about where to go. Which is, of course, like life. We all want to think we know where we are going, but really… what drives and pushes and pulls us? Nobody knows.
I’ll never forget how, when I was in fourth grade, I began to slowly grasp the concept of what writing a letter was all about. Writing a letter was, to me, like talking on the phone. Why would you do it? What’s the point? What are you supposed to say? It baffled me. What is so urgent that I have to put it in a letter and wait for it to get to them? Why can’t I just wait until I see them? It made no sense. I’m still not sure I get it, but… I sorta do. I think writing, like a monologue, is just a way for us to make sense of our world. And when we are lucky, we have some people in our life who are patient and kind and maybe even love us enough to stop and listen and care about what comes out. There is something magical about putting that shit out into the world. Something final and concrete about it. We’re a little less crazy for it. That’s all therapy is, I think. Someone being paid to listen to your babble to help you make sense of it. And that’s a good thing. But you can do it for yourself as well. Or with a friend.
I don’t understand, for instance, why people read my stuff on facebook. I mean, I am super grateful, for one thing. But when people respond and encourage me to write more, I am completely dumbfounded. I don’t get it. I really don’t understand or can hardly accept that people want more of my stuff. It feels so vain and self-indulgent to post things sometimes, but then to actually hear that people want more of it? it makes me feel dirty. Yup, dirty because I am actually relishing in the fact that they’re enjoying it. I know! So weird, but true. Vanity is a weird thing for me. I am always deathly afraid of ever becoming arrogant and vain and yet, I know, I need to somehow accept that what I do brings joy and silliness to people and whatever else people get out of it. But it’s hard to accept (let alone type) it. It feels stupid. But it shouldn’t be that way. Why is sharing who you are a ‘sin?’ There it is. SIN. The word that I grew up with in the ole Catholic schools. God love ‘em those Catholics. I learned a lot but they also infested my mind with some pretty fucked up ideas (sorry friends who are religious). Vanity…is… sinful. Ok, yes it can be. Sure. Anything taken to excess can be a sin. Drinking too much Mountain Dew can be a sin. Watching too much porn. Sitting on your ass too much. Spending too much money when people are poor. All of that can be a sin..[Sin (in my definition) meaning causing harm to somebody, including yourself.] But what is ‘excess?’ is it excessive when you are simply stating what needs to be said and what might bring healing or joy or laughter or stupid fun to somebody else? I think the only time writing is truly excessive is when there is no longer a thought in your head in even the remotest sense that what you are doing is destined to be in anyone else’s hands or mind. When you are truly solipsistic. And even then… it’s ok to write. You just should probably not put it out there until it’s been looked at a few more times and considered with an audience in mind. I think the sad thing about our world is that there is a whole lot of chatter and nonsense every day, but we still so often don’t share what REALLY needs to be said to the people who REALLY matter. We are afraid. Afraid to tell them the truth about how we feel, good or bad. Afraid that what we say might embarrass us, or hurt someone too much and so we hurt ourselves in the process holding it in. But there is another option. Write it down. Fictionalize it if you have to but get it out. Don’t let what you want to say be squashed so deep inside you that you end up in the grave someday never saying the things that are dying to get out. Get them out. They will benefit someone somewhere who might also be inspired not to live a half-awake life either.