Everyone has them: Stories and memories they fondly tell over and over again. I call these stories people's Glory Days.
It's funny the subjects that fall under my Glory Days category, the things I repetitively recount to friends, family, strangers, as I gaze off into the distance and sigh.
I don't have a lot of fun and wild stories from my past that are appropriate group banter, so many times my Glory Days have more to do with what I have accomplished. I know. Totally lame.
For example, something I bring up a lot is my stint as a writer for the (Award Winning!) Sunsphere is NOT a Wigshop blog. I wear that honor like a bejeweled crown.
I loved writing for that blog, a feeling which mostly had to do with my naivety about writing back then. I did not know what I was doing, and so the joy was great, (ignorance is truly bliss). I felt pretty uninhibited, which I didn't realize would be such a fleeting feeling for me. The fact that people were reading did not scare me away from writing.
But something changed in me once all the writers gradually faded out and the blog died its slow death. I had started my own blog so that I could expand the subjects I wrote about, but all of the sudden, I became stiflingly aware of the audience.
I am an open book by nature and can be pretty direct (direct: a nicer word for abrasive). I have also been on a mission to become a gentler and kinder person as I age. Mix this confusion with trying to better market and sell artwork and you get paralyzing fear. It's a hard line marketing yourself as an artist because who I am is tied to what I create so divorcing the two felt like I was doing myself a disservice. But I didn't know how to write without the fear that I would estrange so many from me.
I think part of my nervousness stemmed from being a wide-eyed observer on social media for so many years. If I've learned anything from Facebook, etc., it is that if you're honest, you will anger exactly 50% of all people. It's a scientific fact that I made up one day after years of observation. And I just didn't want to bring that negativity down on me, even if it meant that 50% of the people loved it. I couldn't do that at the time.
Riding the line of honesty and kindness has felt impossible to me for a long time. In a lot of my experience, if I'm honest I hurt people or open myself up to criticism. I have struggled with depression, self-loathing, anger, many things, and what I realize looking back is that I needed a time to hunker down, a time of self-protection, to figure out what was harmful in my life, to decrease those things, and increase any and all good.
During this time of mental health hibernation, writing had no place, even though I longed to do it. And in this way and so many others, Adulthood has crushed my dreams. In its weird and mysterious way, too, however, Adulthood has knocked me down to build up something better within me. Wisdom and maturity will stop at nothing to well up in me. The more I blow them off, and I am so good at blowing them off, the harder they come down on me. They will not let me continue to live the way that I have lived, letting so many bad things into my life, being a fool. The hibernation phase was a lot of time embracing how I really felt about things (not hating myself for feeling something negative) while simultaneously licking my wounds.
Today, the wound-licking is mostly over and I'm beginning to bare my scars with a little pride. I'm still a little shaky about it and don't feel completely ready to start writing again, but I've decided to take the leap anyway. I've grown impatient, and I know I have a harder head and heart (in a good way) to deal with the criticism, if and when it comes.
So because I love a good list, I will name my fears in order to face them head on:
1. I'm afraid that my writing will decrease my audience as an artist. If people read what I'm thinking, many may discredit what I make, and that's scary because Art is an aspect of my livelihood. But it's also a dumb fear, and I'll tell you why through an example.
I love Justin Bieber, mostly because I love the music he makes. I also follow him on Instagram which I find wildly entertaining. Do I think he hung the moon? Do I think he is perfect? No, I do not. My love runs deep for him because I love the mixture in him of ridiculous fame and talent alongside the fact that he is very human, someone who makes mistakes, and is arrogant, and, I think genuinely, trying to do the best he can in this world.
And in this first point, I have all ready sent many people running for the hills. I will be disdained by those who cannot understand my affinity for JB, and I will have to live with that. I am not sorry.
2. My family/ friends of my past will read what I write and worry. Or wonder why I choose to put these things out there. It would be easier to think only strangers will choose to read out of enjoyment and not because of the worry I instill in them. Worry is a quality I accidentally instill in people that care for me. I can't exactly say why, but y'all, I am fine. I am better than fine. So I hope that people come to listen. You don't have to agree, just listen. If you want.
3. I will want to write about personal things or stories about people I know and will have to stop myself or censor myself. I've never understood how auto-biographical writers do this. It's really what I want to do, but how do you do it without potentially burning major bridges. How do you do it gracefully?
4. I will worry about who is reading and I will let that dictate what I write and fluctuate between self-loathing and arrogance, which is my MO.
5. I will not be able to break away from my perfectionist tendencies. This post alone has taken a few hours because I edit and add and edit and add. I don't have that kind of time. How can I write better faster? Practice, I suppose.
Let the practicing begin.