I know that any serious writer will tell you, do it daily. Exercise the gift. I have to say that the hardest times for me to write have been when I know that there is a huge truth I want to communicate that has to do with pain. I think that then it’s the most real. The writers, lyrics, musicians, poets etc. I tend to respect the most have such a bravery about them to do that. They just say it. They toss caution to the wind and breathe in and breathe out and say the hard thing.
What makes it so hard for me? I watch them do it with sucess. I watch them do it with some honest trepidation, but since it’s truth they feel lead to communicate they just do it. It’s not that many of them don’t way the cost. It isn’t that they are loose cannons or reckless. They do care what people think. But they say where they stand anyway. Why do I struggle so much doing that?
I think I often use the argument “I don’t know if I’m doing this right technically. What if I don’t form it correctly before delivering the message? Did I “cross my t’s and dot my i’s” so to speak. What if the mechanics are wrong and I look ignorant?” It’s just an excuse. I once wrote and posted whether I got it technically immaculate or not. Once upon a time I just wanted to write. And I wrote. I wrote honestly what I believed at that time from the information I had to work with and what I knew. I know that maybe the technique still is a worry for me, but that isn’t the real wall I am trying to break through.
I often argue, “No one wants to hear this. They aren’t listening anyway. Why do it? Like Brandi Carlile says, “But the stories don’t mean anything, when you’ve got no one to tell them to…” (Carlile, 2007) .” That also didn’t matter to me when I felt like had freedom to write. I had to write. Whether someone was listening or not. I still do. I will journal, scribble on napkins, menus, used envelopes, whatever I can find, but I write. It’s what I do. So that isn’t the wall either.
I think the barrier has to do with a lack of privacy and judgement. I recently went with a very dear friend who is a communications professor to faux audit her class. I sat in the room listening to a panel of approximately six women of various ages discuss interpersonal communications. One of the topics was, why is it so challenging to discuss negatively percieved emotions. Why is it so hard to share them? I’ve been thinking a lot about all that I heard that night. Let me offer this as a summary of sorts. It doesn’t cover everything, but it says a lot of what was raised in that room.
Truth and art are often times a great deal like a newborn child. You want to protect it. It is personal to the one who sees it. It is dynamic. It breathes. It grows. It can be hurt. It’s part of who you are. Often it tells a great deal about the one who claims to believe it. We’ve all been scarred. “Did I say something stupid?”
A more comical expression of the seniment can be found in L. M. Montegomery’s classic Anne of the Island. Anne Shirley finds that her best-friend submitted her story as an advertisement. Anne explains her pain about this:
“I feel as if I were disgraced forever. What do you think a mother would feel
like if she found her child tattooed over with a baking powder advertisement? I
feel just the same. I loved my poor little story, and I wrote it out of the best
that was in me. And it is SACRILEGE to have it degraded to the level of a baking
powder advertisement” (Montgomery, 1915)
While this seems comical when you read it (Unless you are an artist or a writer then it’s more bittersweet because you get it!) the truth inherient in art is serious and exposing our hearts that freely is exposing it to judgement. What will people think of me if they know. No one can see in out hearts and heads and there there are so many truths that make us who we are that it just seems safer and easier to protect behind out rib cages and skulls.
Recently I’ve done a great deal of soul searching and a lot of changes have occured in my life. I don’t know which is worse for me, the fear of what people think of me or the fear of what I think people think of me. Letting truth out exposes you and it exposes those you love. You want to keep those you love in an ivory tower and you want the world to love them, too. Love is so all inclusive on the one hand while private and sacred in the other. That’s why our homes and bedrooms have doors. Doors that open up when we want to share and feel safe. Doors that close when we want to be intimate and in a healthy way selfish. When you write something down, it’s doors wide open. Artist Jennifer Knapp wrote,
“Careful what you say
Careful who might hear
Someone else inside the
Could write it down
And you’ll be hearing it for years” (Knapp, 2010)
Basically if you’re going to write it, be prepared to own it. That is what scares me. Can I own it? Can I say it and own the consequences?
Carlile, Brandi (Performer). (2007). The Story [Recorded by Brandi Carlile]. On The Story [Medium of recording: CD] New York : Sony. (2007)
Gad, Toby (Lyricist), & James, Elyssa (Lyricist). (2010). Scars [Recorded by Allison Iraheta]. On Just Like You [Medium of recording: CD] New York City: 19/Jive. (2010)
Knapp, Jennifer (Performer). (2010). Dive In. On Letting Go [Medium of
recording: CD] Nashville: Graylin Records/Thirty Tigers. (2010)
Montgomery, L. M. (1915). Anne of the island. Canada: L. C. Page & Co