It’s funny how often we stop ourselves from doing things that might actually be good for us and may even lead us to more places and things we’d enjoy. A distant cry from deep in our heart says “Listen to me! I need to be heard!” But a different, more familiar voice says “Stop! Don’t go too far into the unknown!”
And we listen to the more familiar voice, because it’s gotten us to where we are and that’s not so bad, is it? And so the little voice grows weaker and weaker, and the other voice sits by our side as a trusted friend.
But sometimes…just sometimes… the little voice manages to be heard anyway. Like this time.
And so I just posted a short story called Ruby’s Twitch, something I wrote as a writing exercise. Mostly for fun. Not for publication.
So why did I decide to listen to the voice this time and let myself put this semi-edited semi-finished little story on Out of My Head for all the world to see? Well…first of all, it really did pop out of my head. (-;
But there’s a more personal reason.
I’ve always loved writing (and other creative pursuits), but it was never anything I let myself take seriously. Certainly nothing to base a career on! What foolishness to even think that. And so instead, I picked a more solid, “practical” path doing solid, practical things (well, most of the time) that often left me gasping for a breath of creative air.
I’m still shy about creative writing and rarely give myself permission to even try to write fiction. And yet when I’m doing it, oh how I love it! I get lost in the world I’m creating and…well…it’s just plain fun. Especially when, as in the case of Ruby’s Twitch, I put no pressure on myself and just let the words come out however they want to. And it’s also honoring something deep inside that deserves to come out and play. (I know many of you can relate.)
Is the story great? No. Can I get better? I think so. Probably. And what if I don’t? Well…absolutely nothing lost – but maybe, just maybe, something found. Me.
I had no idea where the story was going when I started. I kind of let it write itself. And actually, by letting myself relax into it, it probably came out better than if I’d had a rigid structure in mind. I’m not saying this is true for all writers, but I think I do more harm by thinking too much. (Lord knows my mother used to tell me that all the time! Speaking of voices in my head. (-; )
And lo and behold…by shutting off the ever-present critic and “protector”, something kind of fun emerged. Sure I could have worked on it at the time to make it better (and still may), but in that moment, it felt good just knowing stuff like this is sitting somewhere inside me – and, with the help of a muse or two, can be coaxed out to run free.
And so, I tucked the story/exercise away, content to think one day I would dare to do it again.
But yesterday, in an e-mail I wrote to a talented cyber-friend encouraging HER to pursue HER dreams of writing fiction (I’m so much better at encouraging others), I reminded her “a writer writes. ” And then I realized “DOH! That applies to me too!”
So many of us talk about writing ONE DAY when we have time or feel better about our skills. I always have it on my list of stuff for the future. But now I realize that’s all self-on-self bullshit. A writer writes every day – or every few days – even if it’s only a few sentences. Even if it’s just an exercise that they throw away. Even if most of it is pure crap.
For me, writing at least a few times a week (and not just blogging) is probably just as important as my exercise bike, which I do remember to use “for my own good.” But writing for my own good? Something I truly enjoy? Nah. Who do I think I am anyway? What right do I have to waste my time at something I can never excel at! (As if I’m Lance Armstrong on my recumbent stationary bike!)
And so…I decided to publish this story as is, hoping of course people would like it, but mostly to remind myself that a writer writes…and then writes some more. And it’s ok to fall metaphorically SPLAT! on my face – again and again. (Oh how I hope to believe that one day.) And anyway…the beauty of being a writer is that we have the power to take any metaphoric splat and turn it into a hellacious dance of joy. (Or so I’ve heard.)
And now…rather than writing about writing, I think I will sit down and write something. Just for me. Just because.
Please feel free to join me. (-;