Monday, January 18, 2010

Purposefully Lost

 “If when you wake up in the morning, you can think of nothing but writing first, then, you’re a writer.”- Sister Act II
Well, not exactly.

I think about writing quite possibly more than anything else.  But thinking about writing doesn’t make me a writer anymore than thinking about dancing makes me a dancer.

I assumed naively that because it was a dominant thought, always in my head structuring my thoughts, that at some point in my life, it would just take over, and everything else would fade into the background.

Not exactly.

Fear is overwhelming, all-consuming. It holds you captive in its hand squeezing you so tightly in its grasp that at any moment you are prone to break, crumbling under the force of its pressure.  So, you exist cautiously, staying as still as you possibly can, barely breathing, avoiding possible destruction, devastation.           

I’ve allowed fear to shape my life, to dictate my path. I’ve pursued things that I hoped would be fulfilling, but aren’t. It’s taken me a while to realize that that the pain of staying within fear’s grasp will be more painful than the fight to freedom.

I’m convinced that life has a way of bringing you the things that you need, when you need them, if you’re open. My fire was fueled by a blog that I discovered. It was actually my professor Brad’s blog, a writer. I spent hours reading and I was fascinated, captivated, inspired.

On October 4, 2009, I launched my own blog, a big, scary step out into cyberspace. I was intent on letting the pressure and passion held back by the dam that is my self -consciousness burst forth. I sat for hours working on my first real post at a Barnes and Noble, completely unaware of what was taking place around me; writing and rewriting, ordering and rearranging.  At one point, a café worker approached my table as he was cleaning the ones around me. He told me I was a hard-working young girl; that I’d been sitting still working for hours. I smiled with tired eyes, said thank you and glanced back at my laptop, anxious to get back to the words. He walked away, and came back with an ice water. Apparently, I looked worn out.

Just as the closing announcement came on the loudspeaker, I published my first blog post with one click. I packed up my things with shaky hands and made my way to the door.  The café worker told me to come back and see him again, and I said that I would.  I got in my car and drove the 20 minutes home, sick and angst ridden, hoping that the post was good, that it was a story worth telling, that it would move someone, that someone would read it.

A few people did read it, some “liked” it and a few people commented on it. I felt for that first week that I was walking around naked, absolutely exposed; fragile, and unsure of myself.

After listening to a talk Brad gave on social media in public relations I barged into his office and asked to set up a meeting about writing. I actually asked him to talk about writing as I listened. I didn’t realize how rude I was until later. The dam was beginning to burst.

We met over coffee one Friday afternoon, and after only a few minutes he said this to me:  “What you’re seeking is permission to be a writer, because you don’t feel that you are already.”

I was both terrified and relieved that he had seen me so clearly.

He told me he couldn’t tell me that I was a writer; that I would have to identify myself. What he did tell me was to write, every day, and that I’d learn my process as I did so.

I’ve been blessed with amazing classmates at Ball State. Ashley and I started blogging around the same time. She’s much more light-hearted and optimistic than I, and I can always count on her for a “like” and encouraging comment. 

Several of my classmates blog, and as I told one of them in a comment the other night: “We’ve got to stick together in the blogosphere.”

And while we all do a pretty good job of supporting each other I often feel like the goldfish in a tank way too big for me. As fear’s hand reaches out to grab me again I often question my ability, realize that I’ve got so much to learn and feel idiotic for declaring my desires and posting my writing for others to see.

At our most recent meeting, Brad and I were talking writing and Malcolm Gladwell, a writer that he suggested I study. He asked me if I was writing every day, a question that I knew was coming, that he’s asked more than once since our first meeting.  My heart sank and I shook my head. Embarrassed. That’s a lot of pressure, to write every day. I want it to be good, I want it to mean something, I want it to have power. I want it to be a writer’s work.

“Sometimes the simple rhythm of typing gets us from page one to page two.  And when you begin to feel your own words, start typing them.”-Finding Forrester
I have a new found freedom that lies in the permission I’ve given myself to struggle. Permission to not be deep, profound or meaningful; to write about anything and everything (even writing itself, a million times over).  To fall, and be broken, over and over again.

I have but one goal, a singleness of purpose: To find and get lost in a rhythm that will transport me from one page to the next.

Others may at some point call me a writer. I may one day call myself a writer, and believe it. Those acknowledgements will provide only a secondary satisfaction.

Because regardless, I’ll wake up and write day after day, until I get lost in a rhythm that is as overwhelming and all-consuming as the fear that held me for so long. 

And then, I’ll write some more.


Brad King said...

Go back and read your first blog post and then read this one. And tell me something isn't changing.

Tiffany Holbert said...

Yeah, it is changing! :)

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