Click clack me, thoughts i type.March 13, 2013
The very first thing i wanted to be when i grew up was a garbage collector. i wanted to work really hard and become the garbage collector on Sesame Street so i could meet Oscar. Once i realized that becoming a garbage collector was not going to get me in with Oscar or Cookie Monster or Grover i moved onto the next career choice. And that was writing.
i went to my first writer’s work shop when i was in first grade. It was at a local college and had kids my age through high school. We all attended the same opening and closing sessions but then we broke down into groups with kids our own age to workshop the writing we brought with us. i worked so hard on my story, it was kind of a strange cross between Back to the Future and Super Mario Brothers with a normal kid dream sequence thing. i wrote it out and then typed it carefully. i edited it and had my teacher edit it and then printed out multiple copies to share and put them in the special folder i had been given when i was given the news that i had been invited to the conference.
(this is me editing my story and talking to my grandma on the phone)
When we broke down into our small groups everyone passed around a copy of their story and i started hearing whispers. i looked at everyone else’s story photocopied from that paper you learn to write on with the dotted lines in the middle to show you where the upper and lower case letters go. They were two or three pages long. Then i looked at my story, three pages typed. Everyone thought i was a huge weirdo and when it was my turn to workshop most of the time was spent discussing who typed it or how long it took to write or other silly logistical things instead of the story itself. There was a brief moment when i was upset by all of this. And then i let myself be wrapped up in the day again, i was surrounded by people talking about writing and words and how to get better. i learned that i could go to school for writing. i learned about different styles and forms of writing. i thought i would explode from excitement.
i didn’t look back. i wrote all the time. Letters, stories, poems, articles. i submitted things to our school paper and our local paper and they were printed. We did a special school paper project when i was in third grade (i think) where people from our city paper came in and taught us how to make a “real newspaper” and how to edit and do layouts. i was chosen to be an editor for one of the pages which was kind of a big deal but i was more excited when we didn’t have enough to fill our page and i got to write something for it. i could write for pages and pages. i didn’t mind being assigned essays for class because it meant i could sit at my computer and forget the rest of the world and just write.
Somehow when i had a pen in my hand or my fingers on the keyboard everything made more sense. The negativity in my head would quiet itself and i could start to make sense of discussions we had had in class. i’ll be honest, it probably helped that people thought i was good at it. This thing that felt more like breathing than breathing to me, that was so easy was also something that i did well. It was nice hearing those things when so many times i was battling the people in my life and the inner voice in me that was always saying i wasn’t good enough. It was a way for me to get those words and that negativity out of my head and onto the page. It didn’t always appear in a way that made sense but it all had a little piece of me. i’ve talked before about my struggles with cutting and self harm. i started when i was ten. It didn’t always work but writing was the one and only thing that i could use that would work in the same way cutting did.
As i got older and learned that i could use those feelings even more than i ever had before, that i could put down on paper exactly what was roaming around in my head or call out the people that said or did something that had a huge impact on me (positively or negatively.) i learned how to put those words on paper in a way that wasn’t emo-y and teen angsty. i felt so powerful and at the same time i felt like i wanted to disappear. It was like at some point a connection was made and i realized with every poem i wrote (i majored in Creative Writing with a focus in poetry) i was giving more and more of myself over to be picked apart. i didn’t even mind my writing being picked apart, i loved my workshop so much i sat in on it every other time it was offered before i graduated (i didn’t even sign up to audit it, i just went to class every day and sat and participated,) this is also a big deal because i didn’t really talk in my college classes. That’s when my anxiety started to get really bad and most of the time i would sit next to one of my amazing friends and write notes that they would then share. But in workshop it was like another world and i could talk and share. There were days that i had ridiculous anxiety and just sat there filling my pages with notes for myself or for the other women in my class and that was okay. But this thing happened where i realized that with each poem i was handing all of these strangers and many times friends or professors that i respected a page from the book of my life and this fear bloomed.
i didn’t care if they told me that the word choice was iffy or if the line breaks didn’t sound right or if the voice needed to be clearer. i cared about the look on their face when they read the words and associated it with me. My professors were good at this, they’re professors, they have practice reading things objectively. But my classmates and my friends weren’t so stonefaced. It was a weird mix of emotion for me because i want my writing to bring out all the feels for the people who read it. i want them to be able to grab hold of a word or a line or a thought and feel like it is theirs. BUT i don’t want them to have that look on their face when they are done or while they are reading like i am broken or that they need to fix something.
i know that a lot of this has to do with the fact that i don’t always talk much. Even with my closest friends. Talking just doesn’t come easily for me so when i would write these poems and share them it was the first time they were learning about a part of me. It was their time to click together the pieces of what makes me me. But it’s hard for me because i don’t want to be different to them. This whole conflict mixed with a few really really bad influences in my life led to me stopping. i didn’t write anything that i didn’t have to for a long time.
And now i’m at this point where i have been writing again- silly things for work and blog posts and whatnot. And i’m remembering what it feels like and how much more sense the world makes when i do this and how much i love it. But i’m scared too. Do you ever have those times when you have so much emotion pent up inside that you start crying and you’re truly scared because it feels like it will never stop. i have a lot a lot a lot of feelings pent up inside me. i don’t/ can’t always express these when i need or want to. There are times when i know a good cry would make me feel so much better and i can’t. And it all pushes from the inside and makes me feel like i’m going to burst. So i’m scared if i start really writing again that it just won’t stop. That i’ll be a big ball of messy, ugly nonsense.
Here’s the thing though, it’s totally okay to be a big ball of messy, ugly nonsense sometimes. It is not okay to hold everything in until i explode or use self harm as a way of releasing that pressure. It’s also okay to have doubts about my writing and okay to feel really warm and fuzzy when someone compliments it. It’s okay to have real discussions with people when they read something- it doesn’t mean they think i am broken, it just means they care and i can ALWAYS use more of that in my life.
i was talking to my supervisor briefly about this (in a conversation that also included how i did not in fact smash my phone in the parking lot at work but by jumping off the roof of my townhouse and realizing that i don’t have a “real broom.” Like i said before, pretty great supervisor) and he gave me one of his looks like, “stop being such a moron,” and said “So write. Set aside time every day and just do it.” And he is right. So i’m going back to Laurie Halse Anderson’s idea of writing fifteen minutes every day. If i write more than that, fantastic. If i struggle through those fifteen minutes so be it because i know in the end even if i have pages upon pages of nonsense or fantastic poems that no one reads until a billion years after i’ve died that this is good for me and i need to do it. i need to do it in the same way i need to make an appointment at the doctor and start on my meds again- this is like a medicine for me and i need to take it as hard as that sometimes is.