Sometimes I have so much to say, so many stories to tell that I don't know where to start, so I don't start at all. I worry I'll hurt someone, or that a person I love very much will get the wrong idea, or that I'll be reviled en masse. Because a lot of what I want to say and many of the stories I want to tell are brutal. Some of them are all true, others are threads from several things woven together and others are pure and unbridled fabrication. (Though that last type is laregely unrepresented.)
Fear of hurting people's feelings keeps me from being the writer I want to be. Fear keeps me from writing essays like this. Teresa Finney is so brave in her piece. It breaks my heart, and that's what I want to do to you. I want to break your heart.
But what if I break my mother's heart. Or my father's heart. Or my friend. Or my favorite person.
"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Anne Lamott said that. She's one of my favorite writers about writing. And I love this quote with ferocity, but I can't bring myself to be that bold. I'm so scared.
Perhaps it's because I'm not good enough. Maybe if I had the words I could tell my stories with empathy and compassion and not piss people off. Maybe.
I battle this every day, this not saying the things I want to say. Bravery, consistency and wherewithal is what separates me from the writers I most admire most.
I am a junkie for the instant gratification of a star, a like, a re-tweet or a thumbs up. Pat my back all day and it will keep me from doing anything hard, keep me from doing anything of real worth, keep me from doing anything that satisfies this incessant need to write something that matters. To me. That makes me proud. That makes people feel something or relate on some level for even a moment.
I'm a terrible coward. Because I know people sacrifice relationships when they tell their stories. Their real stories, the deep down dark ones. How much am I willing to risk? How vulnerable am I willing to be?
This is me being vulnerable right here. This is me admitting I'm scared and not practiced enough to write the stories I have festering inside of me.
This is a toe in the water.
[photo credit: Jofin]