Thursday, May 3, 2012

Write Like Nobody's Watching


I never kept a journal. I tried. Seriously. But for the life of me I could never understand why anyone would want to pour out her innermost thoughts with the risk of being found out. I know. I know what you’re thinking. Good Lord, she writes! Yes, but it’s not the same. Journaling done right involves the spilling of one’s guts, leaving everything one has on the page. Writing, in theory, is the same. In theory. In practice, however, writing often involves a much more judicious use of story.

If you read me, you may think you know me. You may think me unnecessarily free with my thoughts and a bit too loose with my pen. You may feel that I have opened my heart and bared my soul to the point that you indeed HAVE retrieved that peace and flower covered diary from under my mattress and opened straight up to all the juicy parts. You may imagine me the equivalent of a cheap floozy selling herself, not for a raucous romp in the hay, but for a chance to flash her passions to those who might want to take a look.

I am so guarded with my thoughts. You have no idea.

The things I could write if I would just let loose, just cast off my cares. Oh, the things I could write if, indeed, I would just write like nobody is watching. The problem with narrative essays is that there’s no place to hide. The stories are real. They happened to me and to anyone else who flits across my page. Granted, I color my words to make them more entertaining, fail to remember life exactly as it played out, and sometimes stretch the truth just a wee tiny bit, but I can never back my way out of a story by claiming, “It’s not ME! It’s FICTION! I TOTALLY made it up!!”

With each word I pen I have forty more fighting to get out. Who might see this? Would he be offended? Would he think I’m talking about HIM? Did this really happen or did I just imagine it? I THINK it happened. Maybe not like THIS, but I THINK it happened. What if my kids see this? How embarrassing. Not exactly the picture you want of your mother. What if my students see it? YIKES! How will they focus on lecture when they know what I’m wearing underneath this conservative cardigan? Conservative cardigan. Is that redundant? Why do I write so much on underwear? What the hell? I’m smarter than that. I should write on world peace and love and compassion, social issues. Shit like that. Do I swear too much? Fuck it. I don’t even care. What if my writer friends see this? Geez. Would they think me, then, their “writer” friend and not just their writer friend?

Why do I feel the need to impress with my writing? Why do I feel the need to tread lightly with my words? I pass those books with all of the bare chested young men and think, wow, SOMEbody writes that and how FUN it would be, but oh, I could never. Well, the truth is that, yes, I could. I COULD write that. I am very clever with my words and not as prim as one might think. I COULD write it, but I choose not to for fear of judgment. Such a waste. So capable. And people will see that. What is she thinking?

So I ask myself, why do I write? Do I write to educate, to inform, to entertain? What do I want for my reader? What do I want for YOU? Regardless what it seems, I don’t post essays just to flaunt my fabulousness. It’s a great start, but not nearly enough. No, I craft my words to move you in some way. I want to move you to action, to laughter, to tears, to thought. But what if, instead, I forget that for a minute and focus on my own needs, focus on me? What if I rip open this soul for an up close look? What if I give you everything I could possibly give? What then? Would you continue to read me? Would you respect me in the morning?

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