Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 105: you can't get a tan standing in the shadows

I am taking a personal essay writing workshop on Saturday, and today we had to email a piece of writing to the other students for class discussion.  I have been really excited for this and had a few ideas on what I would submit but as the emails started pouring in, I suddenly felt a little out of my element.  And well, a good deal intimidated.

As I announced in my very first entry, I started this 365 day experiment to find my written voice.  112 posts in, I feel as though I have been testing out a few stylistically and I’m hoping that this will lead me to the one that fits me best. 
I have built up some confidence here because I’m not following a format.  (I am following my thoughts, really).  But these soon to be classmates sent excerpts of chapters to the memoirs they are working on! With gritty, meaty subject matter!  And I was deflated. I felt like the much-too-colloquial fluffy kid in class. 
The next thing I know, I am calling my mom and emailing friends to shed some light on what they think I should submit. Every opinion was different, but they all said, “Listen, you have a style. Stay true to it. Follow your gut.  Show a few different colors of what you can do.” 
Follow my gut. Why am I not doing that? I am not a fan of indecision. And I’m pissed off that I have been second guessing my hard work all day long.  The truth is, I’m pretty tough on myself as it is. I write a post here, and the next day I have to talk myself out of editing it to shreds or deleting it altogether.  This whole 365 Attempt experience is a vulnerable one, creatively and personally. I have allowed open the floodgates to my heart and mind for whomever chooses to tune in on whatever day.
I hate looking or sounding insecure. I really want to convey confidence in my writing and in my life decisions but the fact of the matter is…I don’t know what the hell I’m doing! I haven't the slightest idea! What if I leave nothing to the imagination, and that turns people off? What if I get so used to writing one to two page essays (keep 'em short so as not to lose the attention of the reader) that I never delve into the waters of 'chapters' or 'memoirs'?  But then I think of all the supportive messages I have received about being honest, about not filtering too much and I feel lucky that people have related to that in whatever shape or form. And that gives me my much needed kick in the ass.
I went ahead and submitted a few pieces that I liked best.  And I will show up and stand behind them as best I can, without apology or self flagellation. It is a workshop after all. (Get a grip, girl!) It’s to get insight and to improve.  And to hopefully take this newfound passion of the written word to a new level.  Fingers crossed that I don’t get in my own way.


  1. You'll do brilliantly! I love your writing, and I think that others will too. Don't be like me, I'm too scared to write more than a page! Although, I am trying.

    Lady A x

  2. I love your little story teasers, definitely leave me wanting more than a paragraph. It's a great concept though... Thanks, Lady A!

  3. I started a blog last week - I'm on holidays and I thought I could just record the sort of thinking I do every night - how wrong was I? Is is my imagination or does the thought of someone actually seeing into your mind stifle thought and creativity? Now '365' you're obviously a writer or an aspiring one at the very least (and by 'writer' I mean someone who makes a living from doing this or really wants to put their work 'out there')and I'm not - far from it - but reading your blog both inspires and depresses me. You draw great visual pictures for me - I can see you doing your stuff and they often make me smile - in recognition mostly. And then I think about what you've written and that inspires me (to write, to believe I can manage as a single girl...)Isn't that what a good author should be doing? Stick to it!
    PS the depressing bit comes from the fact that I recognise in myself a lack of writing talent and much more importantly a lack of ability to laugh at myself. I feel so darn cranky with the world right now, I need a slap! Keep making me smile please!

  4. You know what, Lollita? It's time we all just simmer down and stop taking ourselves so seriously. Don't you think? Writing is creative, and yeah...people will judge it. But someone once gave me the best advice (when I asked him to read my work and give his opinion): "if you're OK with the material, if you write it for you and you like it...that's all the opinion that matters." I think that's true. As soon as you start tailoring things to be what you 'think' people will like, you're not being true to your own writing style. I reminded myself of that this week before going to this workshop and being wishy washy. Praise is awesome, and most people forget to spread it around. Constructive criticism is awesome too. Thanks for saying I inspire you. Seriously, what a wonderful compliment. An even bigger compliment is to go ahead and stick with your own idea. Keep writing until you feel it's your best work. Sure, I'm hoping that it winds up being my life profession, but for now writing every day is simply practicing my craft. Write! I'll read. :)

  5. pff! you have nothing to worry about. the thing you would have trouble with would be writing a boring, dull, mediocre piece of work. but you have a point about going into greater lengths of writing eventually. what you are doing now is splendid for blogging, but to go above and beyond with your writer's block therapy you may want to consider more of a plot. but, whatever you do, SO NOT compare your pieces to those of others because you have a writing style, voice and imagination that I have seen but maybe once in other authors. not even amateur writers - I'm talking real deal, name-out-there authors. Anyway good luck!
    PS: I have a hunch that when this 365 days is over, it won't really be.
    PSS: check out my blog here:
    PSSS: i love the above comment ;)

  6. Wow! How nice are you?! I'm glad I read this right before heading out to said workshop. That was a super pep talk, Coach! (Can I call you Coach?) Thanks a million. Promise to check out your blog this evening. High five!

  7. no prob. uh, sure, coach works lol