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Why I Don't Write

succulent in floral planter in foreground white ceramic sign that reads: "Write without fear. Edit without mercy."
Photo Cred: Hannah Grace / Unsplash

One of the reasons I don’t write as much as I can is because somewhere along the line from dream to business conception to the pursuit of success as a “career author”—I turned writing into a should.

I’d read, listened to interviews with, or been told secondhand about authors who walked out their back door, down foot-carved dirt paths into spaces designated solely for the craft—an airstream converted into the most delightful, bohemian plant-laden haven, a cabin with spartan insides—and put in the eight-hour workday, just writing. Lee Child writes one book a year. Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child publish every time I blink.

And here I find myself, still unsure what kind of a writer I am. (I sure as hell am not hitting the eight-hour writing workday.)

A few things I know: I want to produce one Big Blog a week, and micro blogs remain my quick, sloppy, pressure-free bursts of inspiration that wriggle out of me whenever space allows. I’ve self-published once. I’ve written a novel. I want to write at least 10. I’d like many of my books to be adapted to the screen.

But how much am I writing?

I guess when you get to a certain point in the biz, you have help with certain things, and other tasks you thought took priority become non-essential. Right now, everything feels essential and I perpetually feel like I’m not doing enough.

Part of that is good ol’ fashioned overthinking. Seizing onto the preciousness of word and speech. Wanting to come across polished. Needing to care less.

Another element of my personal equation is an ongoing sense of overwhelm incited by a highly sensitive nervous system. People have said to me in one way or another, countless times throughout my entire life: “You are making more of this than it is.” Well, to me, it is more, but most of the world doesn’t sense, feel and know as deeply and intensely as I do, as HSPs do. I’m starting to understand terms like “microaggression” and “gaslighting” while realizing I’ve been on the receiving end of both for simply experiencing the world the way I do. That can wear a person down, shrink them or kindle a fire in the belly to speak up, come out and stop apologizing. To my own surprise, I’m the latter, and my entire being has been ignited with equal parts fed-upness, determination and a fuck-it attitude that may just keep me in this crazy game of creating.

Something that’s held me back is a people-pleasing habit so long practiced as to become inherent to my cellular makeup. Maybe from the moment my lungs siphoned air, I sensed that I had to be a chameleon because I knew the real me would be rejected. I’ve only ever trusted a tight few, and even then, I’ve never fully let all of myself out. I am masterful at projecting appearances, adapting to whatever personality presents itself in front of me, while remaining safely hidden inside myself. I recently cried in front of a friend for the first time after two years of knowing each other, and realized that because of all the times I let too much of myself out and was burned, hurt or judged for it, I’ve become so incredibly guarded that this tightness and need to control has pervaded my life.

I don’t type a sentence without some worry that I’m behind the curve on a new label or tenant of social justice that I’ll be harpooned for down the road. I feel wrong for being white and having dreadlocks (even though they’re naturally formed and happen to be the most “me” hairstyle I’ve ever had), or calling them dreadlocks instead of locks because of the nasty colonialist origin of the name. I don’t know if it will ever be possible to show up in this world or speak the truths residing within me, without seriously upsetting, offending or possibly hurting others in some way or another. I want peace and support and a better quality of life for every single person on this planet, and yet I can’t shake the feeling that by simply being alive I’m still doing it wrong or it’s never enough. (I don’t feel like it’s okay for me to even say this because I’m privileged and who am I to complain about any sort of challenge when so much of the world is without access to clean water?)

That’s why I don’t write. Not as often as I can. Because I fear judgment. Wrongness. And being truly seen and known. I deeply fear being polarizing. People not liking me because of what I express. Being judged indefinitely for something that reflects my level of awareness at a single moment in time.

How much honesty is acceptable?

Can I write this way—moment-to-moment truth—once a week? Do I have it in me to let so much of myself out? Ugh. I dunno.

Today, I was brave enough, if you can call it that.

Tomorrow or the next day, who knows. The rest is YTBD. Yet to be determined.

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