A year ago today, I wrote this post and hit publish. I really had no idea what to expect, I only knew that if I didn’t start sharing some writing in a public forum in some capacity, I would never grow as a writer.
Also, I knew I was afraid.
I have a complicated relationship with fear. I’m still learning how creativity, joy and wonder can peacefully coexist with it. Because I know rational fear can serve an important purpose in our lives, I don’t want to banish it entirely. But I also know that when I make decisions out of fear, I usually am disappointed with the outcome. I am still gathering strategies to get fear to hush it a little. Or a lot. I mean, that first blog post was nothing but a list of fears, for crying out loud. But I hit publish anyway.
And then they all came true. Every single one. A quick recap on what I was afraid of:
1. Everything I have to say has already been said by someone else, but more eloquently and with better punctuation.
I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve written something in this past year only to find it written by someone else, sometimes that very same week. We can call this coincidence or collective consciousness but I think it really just means that humans are constantly exploring the same ideas, emotions, and narratives. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But I do have a story about editing. It’s short. It goes like this. Girl writes blog post. Girl hits spell check. Girl hits publish. Girl clearly forgets to hit save before hitting publish, and the unedited version of blog post publishes. Girl’s awesome brother alerts her to the matter. Girl uses some profanity and corrects the problem. Girl now has compulsive behavior regarding spell check. Grammar and punctuation are another story, as is my overuse of the ellipsis…and emoticons. 😉
2. Writing a blog feels a little self-involved.
Yep. That’s because it is. If one of my blog posts ever reads as prescriptive to you, that is likely unintentional. More than likely, I’m just writing about something I’m working through at the time. If it speaks to you, know I’m right there struggling with you. It’s been gratifying to connect with people dealing with similar issues, like trying to rid my house of excess stuff or trying to slow the speed of life.
3. Writing a blog will involve dealing with negative people who reside in internet-land.
While I have yet to receive the level of commentary of this post, I have had to deal with negativity. It has been leveled by people who simply don’t share my views, which is okay with me. I’m open to conversation provided that the conversation is civil and productive. I moderate my comments because I choose not to spend time reacting immediately to negativity, or to randomness, like the time my home was named one of the “best party spots in Brooklyn” in a comment on one of my blog posts. True story.
If you decide to live a creative life in any capacity, or invent something to offer to the world, or even just share your opinion about something, you will be met with criticism. That’s just the bottom line. Not everyone is going to like what you have to share. And that is okay. But that doesn’t mean it is easy. I truly believe that we’ve never lived in a time where this has been more challenging, because we now have to listen to the voices of not only a handful of reviewers/readers, but of anyone who decides to take to the internet to make their opinion known. But quiet retreat is not an option, at least not one I’m willing to consider at this time.
4. I’m not a photographer.
That’s still true. My photography has not improved at all. I just share my pictures anyway.
5. I’m not sure I can keep up.
There have been months when I have not written regularly and others during which I blogged a couple of times a week. I’m not sure what I had in mind when I used the phrase “keep up” or who I was intending to keep up with, but I’m still here.
I don’t yet know exactly where I’m heading with this blog, but I do know that I am deeply grateful for this space, and for the reception from all of you who read it. I’m grateful those of you who have collaborated on stories with me, those of you who I have met through this space who have become friends in real life, those of you who have shared something I’ve written, those of you who have continued to encourage me to keep writing. In short, if you are reading this right now, I’m grateful for you.
And even though I said that my writing is not meant to be prescriptive, I’m going to go ahead and offer up some unsolicited advice to you, my friends.
Just go ahead and take one step towards doing the thing. I don’t know what the thing is, but you do. You know what the thing is that you really, truly want to do. Maybe you want to write a book, or move to another state. Maybe you want to tell the girl you’ve always been in love with her, or adopt a child. Maybe you want to start a business. Maybe you want to close your business. Maybe you want to go to school, or play music or weld together bottle caps into giant sculptures the size of your house. Maybe you want to create a safe space for people to heal, or maybe you want to go to a safe space to heal yourself.
All of our days are numbered, and none of us know the number of our days. All of us are born to create, and as Brene Brown says, “Unused creativity is not benign–it metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame. We are creative beings.”
Creativity doesn’t always mean some sort of artistic creation. Sometimes creativity is creating the life you long to live. If there’s something that’s gnawing at you, something you are longing to try, take a step in that direction today. I’m not suggesting you take all the steps, but maybe just one tiny step in the direction of the thing you want to do. You’re unlikely to regret it.
And if you do, you can blame me later. You know where to find me.
I’ll be here, writing.
Thank you for reading.