I finished Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies last night …and it came upon me with a stunning dread that really good writing, it seems, requires a level of self-revelation that terrifies me. In the last two days I’ve thought of at least three blog posts that I immediately mentally chucked because I couldn’t bring myself to splay myself out on a page like that. It’s just too scary. All those college professors who say that meaning is in the mind of the reader may have at least part of the truth, because, although the thing I like about writing is the ability to edit, I still can’t manage to get my words to a place where they’re a window into my psyche. Just not there yet. Even if I do get to a better place in my communication skills, it still won’t prevent me from being misunderstood. It still won’t prevent people from taking one insignificant piece out and magnifying it to the point of distortion.
With art, I almost always preferred drawing things, versus people and living things. I liked still life and photographs –they didn’t change or move or do unpredictable things. With writing, however, I am irresistibly drawn to things I can’t control. It’s that difference that gives my writing a life that my art seldom had, however I tried to manipulate it. The life of the thing is the slimy part that likes to wriggle out of your hands and flop around on the floor a while. It’s maddening for a recovering (maybe) control freak like me. I suppose in a way, it’s just exactly what I need.
So, for those of you who have done this sort of thing (with art or other stuff), how do you get beyond the place where you’re not envisioning everyone you’ve ever known reading/watching/looking at this piece of you nailed to a wall or inked on paper and reacting (usually badly) to it? It’s like the recurring dream of going to school in your underwear …only a whole lot closer to reality. Well, it’s late. We’ll see if this goes anywhere tomorrow I guess. Just had to get that out while it was still flopping around on the floor.