A friend of mine from high school, Jessica at The Reluctant Sojourner, is blogging all month about Finding Your Voice. I spontaneously today decided to follow along with my own posts on tea@elevensies.
Why do I struggle to write? What keeps me down?
I say that I am a writer. I definitely get paid to write articles at my job, and writing has always proven to be the way I process things best, so I am a writer. However, I don’t do much writing outside of the 40 hours a week I work at a trade magazine. I don’t spend any time journaling, blogging (obviously) or working on the short stories and novels rolling around in my head. I make excuses: no time and too tired. I get an itch to hunker down and really invest in my writing outside of work, but I can never make it stick or even get started.
Fear keeps me quiet.
Fear that my voice doesn’t matter. I am a white, middle class woman who has never wanted for anything. Fear tells me I have nothing to say that is of value. I have never struggled, never faced adversity. I have no tale of woe. I’m very grateful for this life I’ve had so far, but when I sit down to write out my thoughts on anything, my experience feels limited, stunted, lacking. Fear asks, “What could you possibly have to say that hasn’t been said before?” And it answers for me, “Nothing.”
Fear that people will think I’m stupid. Writing out your thoughts, whether they are commentaries on issues or fictional stories, is very intimate. A writer takes their inmost thoughts and puts them out there for the world to read and judge. It feels like putting your soul on parade for approval. It’s a fact of life that not everyone will approve. Some will call it stupid or bad, which will feel like they’re calling me, the creator, stupid or bad. It is being known and then rejected. Fear tells me everyone will reject me and my works. As a people-pleasing extrovert, fear tells me I won’t be able to handle that.
Fear of the sacrifices writing requires. When I have those good weeks where I am working on a fictional story for fun, I get so wrapped up in it. I disappear for a bit into my characters and the plot, and it takes time to crawl back out again into reality, almost like being Alice in Wonderland. I’m afraid of what I’ll miss while I’m gone. I’m afraid of who I’ll miss or might lose. Fear tells me that I will have to sacrifice relationships and time only for those works to be rejected.
It’s not worth it.
Frankly, I’m not sure how to beat these fears. I tell myself that publication isn’t necessary, that all that really matters is that I write for myself. It doesn’t matter if no one else likes it or approves. And that holds up, for a while. But inevitably, the fear and insecurities creep back in. “Your voice doesn’t matter. You have nothing of value to say. You sound stupid. The sacrifice isn’t worth it.”
I hate being beaten. I cannot stand being told I cannot do something in real life. Growing up, I was always told that I could do anything I set my mind to if I worked hard enough. Any time someone told me otherwise, I was driven to prove them wrong. For some reason, in this place, that spiteful resolve has been missing. It is time for that to change. It is time to channel that resolve to prove fear wrong. It is time to persist, to just keep writing, and I’m hoping Jessica’s Find Your Voice prompts can help.