I’m trying to finish an essay about not writing. (And by trying, I mean printing out a draft and then leaving it untouched for nearly three weeks now. )
The essay started as an assignment for an online writing class I took earlier this year. I uploaded the work for class discussion, believing I was writing about family relationships.
The instructor pointed out how the essay was about something I hadn’t considered – about not writing, and the unconscious blocks we put up to keep us not writing, and, ultimately, the importance of taking down those blocks – one by one.
Here’s a quick excerpt that will probably end up on the proverbial cutting room floor:
This is the part of the story I don’t know how to tell. I want to control how you feel about it. I want to soften the blow of what I’m trying to explain. I want to tell what happened to me without sharing any details.
Anne Lamotte says memoirist get to own what happened to them. That if people wanted you to only write nice things about them, they should have treated you better. My therapist would say I can’t control my family’s reactions. Or yours.
The quote that keeps coming up for me is from David Sedaris: “If you read someone else’s diary, you get what you deserve.”
Writing is scary.
In these 225 words, I tip-toe around delicate family themes. I mention my therapist.
I admit I want to tell you what happened, clearly breaking the cardinal rule of most every family – telling the stories our loved ones preferred stayed sealed in plastic and hidden under the old blankets and extra linens in the back of the closet.
It occurs to me all the layers here – me writing a blog post about not finishing an essay about not writing. It’s an enigma wrapped in a mystery…hidden in the back of a closet. But so goes writing.
Writing IS scary, and on so many different levels. Do you ever wonder why on earth we do it? I’ve been asking myself that question for months now and I don’t have an answer. In my case I suppose it’s because this is the only socially accepted form on narcissism I’ve come up with so far, and I’ve got my head too far up my own ass to look for another.
“do you ever wonder why on earth we do it?”
unfortunately, i’ve spend most of the past few years wondering why I’m not doing it!! I do love the idea that some of us are born with whatever it is in our genes/head/whatever that drives us to words. It’s just there – part of who we are.
For my own neuroses, I’ve realized that “not writing” is no different than “not exercising”. If I’m working out regularly, I keep working out. If not, I find any/every excuse not to do it. I’ve wasted many years thinking my writing was more high-minded than that, but no. It’s just me and my choices.
And having said that, I have not written OR exercised in over a week. And I’m miserable.
It’s exactly that – the whole practice of it. Just showing up to do it. That’s what’s behind this 30-day thing I’m trying. If I can just show up, I’m surely to move the needle some, right?
Yes. I’m excited to read you everyday as you will encourage me!