One (hot beach) day when I went to my creative magazine writing class (for some of the college’s superior air-conditioning), the (just-older-than-most-of-us, long-blond-haired, journalism-grad-can’t-find-a-job) instructor (leading our let’s-sit-around-one-large-table-and mainly-just-talk-for-an-hour class) advised us,
“Write like your parents are dead.”
At the time, I felt that I understood. I probably just nodded agreeably from across the table while jotting some notes like this:
~~Don’t be afraid to write amazing content just because of what other people will think. blah blah etc.~~
I wasn’t worried. I was young and I could write whatever I wanted. I wasn’t afraid.
Or I thought I wasn’t.
I wrote a lot. Trashed a lot, too. Pretty much all of it–and not because of which people were still alive, but rather because I didn’t actually know what writing with such freedom actually meant. I didn’t know how to reach those words.
To my own defense (or detriment), before this college course lesson above, I also had an extremely (unexpectedly) influential (possibly evil) teacher from high school, way-way-way before the internet ruined our ability to have second thoughts, who said,
“Never put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want the world (((aka–especially your parents or cruel peers))) to read.”
I still remember her speaking in front of our nerdy class; looking around at us with her burnt wisdom and calculated contempt, willing to share her knowledge but secretly enjoying the inevitability of our future mistakes.
So I had these two searingly opposite phrases audibly tattooed into my early impressionistic writing self. Public versus private, edited versus raw, proper versus crude.
Add that in with my transcripts which overflowed with practical non-fiction and technical writing achievements, and my opposing stacks of personal notebooks which brimmed with free-form and fiction. Left brain versus right. Function versus heart. An excruciating barrier between them.
A barrier between me and my writing.
This manifested into a fear inside of me. A thorny protector from my own and others’ criticism, from the embarrassment of internal and external defeat. An amazing annihilator of risk.
But also achievement.
Write it. Reach the barrier. Turn away. Throw it away.
Knowing there was further to go but not going.
Feeling the words, sensing their presence, but not willing to fight for them.
Sad. Sadness. Abandonment.
Yet the words still call for me. Haunt me. Wait for me. Draw me closer.
So I continue to attempt to bring down the barrier in pieces. Years and layers still need to be trekked through and chartered. An adventure. A journey. A process. A belief that writing will make me whole and I will find those words. They will be free. I will be free.
And I won’t care who knows it. Or reads it.
(Pic note: my Snapchat fun)