It can be painful to write (as I write this again after not saving the draft- arghhh – is this what they call irony?). Most people just quit – I need to have Courage with a capital C. Again.
It took me the last three and a half months to process and a lifetime to commit to the fact that : I am a writer. I love and hate to write. I must write. I think about writing all the time. I love to read other people’s writing. I write.
Anne Lamott, a writer who writes for writers, clearly states in Bird by Bird that writing is torturous and that many writers don’t pursue their love of writing because it is so painful.
Imagine 1) opening up a vulnerable part of you, 2) describing it as best you can, 3) allowing others to step inside your head and then let’s do 1,2,3 once more. All the while, you are literally scraping off the scab of some buried wound you find delight and disgust in revealing, wallowing in the stench, humiliation or ecstasy of it and returning yourself back down to earth to magically produce it for some unforsaken reason for all the world to scoff, adore or revile it. This sort of endeavor is not for the faint of heart.
That’s not how I felt when I entered my adult writing class in the Fall of 2011. I expected to learn how to create, write and publish my memoir. Instead, we were instructed (or this is where I took it) to reach back into our childhoods, back into all our past mistakes and dig deep into ugly and self-defeating moments of our lives. No wonder I had lapses in memory.
Our assignment is always only allowed to be three pages long. It took me ten weeks to remember, prepare, re-write, cry over, exhaust my closest friends with past drama, bore my family agonizing over the right word, re-live that period of my life over and over, hate it, back away and recoil from it and then, finally – be brave enough to read my first story to the class aloud (with a microphone pinned to my blouse so as not to miss a word or nuance in my voice) up in front of the classroom. Needless to say, I was in tears when it was over and shocked when everyone was nice enough to say it wasn’t half bad. Five weeks to cook up story number two and three weeks to birth the third. Progress.
It’s like children. With my first born I only went to Burger King/McDonalds for special occasions and play dates. With my second child, I would drive the van through the drive-through, keep the kiddie meals up front on the passenger seat and make them wait til we got home to eat – but by the third one, I was throwing the french fries into the back of the van full of children tied into their protective child seats to make them stop crying and whining. I learn as I go.