I have come late to writing as I have to so many things. I always identified as a reader not a writer and I simply couldn’t see myself being able to do it. Everything that writing involved seem so far away from me and my life experience. The taking of time, the carving out of a space in my life to just sit and write, the indulgence in even thinking about it was beyond me and this exacerbated the seemingly huge gulf between what I ‘knew’ about myself and ‘knew’ was required to be a writer. The family expectations and demands, the business, my relationship, all of it leaving so little left for the whimsy and exploration necessary to even think of beginning putting fingertips to keyboard.
Writing though was inextricably linked to my explosive interest in my sexuality that has dominated my fifties. I began to read erotica and actually then to have something that so engulfed me and set me on fire with new feelings, new experiences and gut wrenching disconnection from my old life that I needed to let it out before it left me in ashes.
Today I was prompted to think again about why I write. How I can live with this monstrous presumption that not only I should and can write but that others might want to read it?
Here are my thoughts, expressed briefly as I have no reliable Internet connection now and am typing on my phone, about why I write.
A vehicle for expression – my feelings, my opinions, my desire, my hope, my dreams, my fear, my anger, my vulnerability. All the things that define me, all the things that limit me. They make me eye, make me strong, weak, vulnerable, resilient, submissive and kickass and kinky as fuck.
Creating a record – moments of despair, good times, challenges overcome, points of anger, letting off steam. I look back at my writing and say ‘ah I remember that, but I am not there now.’ This record is tremendously helpful in difficult times and a wonderful reminder of good ones
Overcoming repression – this means it is imperative that I learn to say what I have been taught not to say – for me this is particularly salient around sexuality, not people pleasing and difficult or overwhelming feelings.
Exercising my bravery muscle – in the past my timidity has meant that I didn’t express myself for fear of not being liked or of losing someone’s good opinion of me. This is linked to the kind of people pleasing behaviour and co-dependency that helped to breed the abuse that my marriage eventually ran aground on. It means that I can more readily identify with another’s hurt feelings than my own and I need to change this in order to change my future relationships which I am determined will be founded on something more solid than my desire to please.
Exercising my not giving a fuck muscle – if you are a people pleaser you will recognise how difficult it is to get to the place of zero fucks given that is not merely a defensive reaction to everyone and everything. Nevertheless I am learning that this infact should be my default position. As my boundaries strengthen I am clear; these are my thoughts, my feelings, my body, my writing. If you don’t like them then just move on. God knows there are plenty more and better writers than me out there to read.
Practicing acceptance – blogging for me requires acceptance of other’s right to write – their writing may not appeal, I may not agree with their opinions but they are entitled to express themselves without my say so, agreement or comment. The same applies to me of course.
It’s pleasurable -The pleasure of writing actually has not come first for me. It is something I have learned to enjoy as I let go of the fear of expressing myself and risking approbrium. Initially it was simply petrifying but now the joy of letting go and letting it out and then crafting it into something I can feel good about is a wonderful experience. The search for the perfect word, the connection when I get in the flow and sense of acheivement when other’s I respect comment are all life-enhancing. I care about that sense of a bigger life lived well too much to let fear of what other’s might think to get in the way now.
Continually improving – I now have a desire to become a better writer – the discipline of writing is just that, a discipline . It is also a muscle that requires attention and commitment to exercise. It does not get better through lack of use. It does get better through, attention, peer review, reading other writers both good and bad and learning through doing.
Engaging with authenticity – I strive, in all things really, but particularly in writing, to show myself as honestly as I can. This means I have to overcome those feelings that keep me small and encourage me not to take risks and to grow. This means I have to overcome the shame that tells me that I am somehow not normal, that my selfhood is somehow less than others; that my voice is tainted by poor choices, and corrupted by ignorance and bad behaviour and has no reason to be heard.
To be part of a community – this means I risk not being as good as those I admire, joining in means I risk being rejected, speaking my mind through my writing means I risk being disagreed with and possibly actively scorned. However in my writing I made a decision not to sit on the sidelines of life any longer. That my fears would remain that as long as they weren’t challenged. That my life might be better, more fulfilling, more full of love and lovely people if I took the risk and joined in. So I do. With memes and writing prompts, I regularly post words and images that could cause derision and dislike in others. I do this in order to be part of something, to put myself out there and commit to my own development and practice. I have been brought up to see this kind of activity as self seeking and pretentious. After all why would I think that others would want to see pictures of me and to read my words? But it seems that they do and the encouragement I get from their responses to my work makes me more certain of continuing not less.
I risk being regarded as luvvie who identifies herself as creative and who sees herself as better than others, and as part of a clique by some who possibly might be right but from my perspective who just seem plain scared of connecting and being judged and found wanting. Feelings that I recognise as they live in me too. I know what it is to be unsure, of my place in the world and my value as anything other than a role and I know this too. That it is a small prison, one voluntarily entered, one that locks us away from the joy and pleasure to be found if we can set ourselve free to express ourselves in whatever way we please.
This is what writing and blogging does for me and why it is too important to me to stop even if no-one ever read anything I wrote again.
It sets me free.
I began this piece with the quote “if you prick us do we not bleed?” from the Merchant of Venice. because I believe that we share our humanity through the arts and the practice of creativity. I see your hurt and your desire and hope for joy. I understand it. I share and show you my own via my writing for a chance to communicate about what unites rather than divides us.
If you decide to take the risk too, I will be cheering you from the sidelines.
It takes bravery.
I think you can do it.