As you may have noticed, Finding delight. and writing in general have taken a bit of a backseat for me these last few weeks. Long work days, with long play days (I’m trying to enjoy Summer to it’s fullest while it lasts : ) interspersed as well, fill up my calendar to bursting. I figured this step away would be a great time to reflect on my writing. I strive to continue to grow and remain, as ever, a life-long learner. Here is a current assessment of my writing–
I’ve always felt an intense need to know the stories of others. Perhaps due to some innate, busybody quality so deeply ingrained in my curious person I seek them out without a moment’s hesitation. Or maybe, and this is certainly the more forgiving explanation I tend to hope is true, it is within these narratives I collect that my own story gains meaning. Yet peering down a dark, forgotten alleyway in someone else’s story in search of clues to create your own is troubling. I once saw a newspaper cartoon sum up the marketability of our stories rather aptly. Two bookshelves were shown in the memoir section of a bookstore–one labeled “People with lives way better than mine,” the other “People with lives way worse than mine.” As a reader, these subsections are comforting. Escapism and reassurance. Self-help and self-congratulation. But as a writer, I end up wondering; how can I tell my own life without touting my privilege or weighing the tragedy I’ve encountered against others’? Will anyone peer around a corner in my life and, startled, run right into themselves?
As I’m seeking to incorporate my own story into my writing much more than ever before, not always as the subject of- but at least the framework for-, I find this familiarity with the stories of others to be both a strength and a weakness. I know how to tease emotion to the front of the page. I have an understanding of what readers find compelling. I am honest. But I worry about relatability. I worry about form and length. And most detrimental, I still believe I can make the words and thoughts of another more beautiful than I can make my own. The reader is my best friend and my greatest enemy. I concern myself with people’s perceptions and approval before the first word hits the page. I’m not going to bullshit and say I would write for no one, that is a lie. I want everything I write to be read. I write FOR readers. In the end, I believe this audience awareness is an asset.
All of this being said, there is no particular aspect of my writing which keeps me awake at night. Yes, I could stand a refresher course in grammar–specifically commas, my writing teacher brother so sweetly pointed out. (I can’t help that I love them.) I have a penchant for writing as if my words will be spoken not read. Sometimes my style is anything but succinct. But I’m not losing sleep over any of these assessments. I know they can be rectified with practice and patience. What keeps me awake at night are my ideas and brainstorms. I lie in bed going over all the directions a topic could go, the sentences that could snap, the sources I could pull from. Even the perfect wording to an email comes to me as I settle in and keeps me restless in the dark for hours. For far too long these thoughts were overwhelming and resulted in little more than daydreams and conversation fodder. But more and more, I am learning to just wake up and write.
In the coming weeks I shall explore what this assessment means for me as a blogger and will attempt to work towards regaining some consistency with my posts. I am working with a Writer’s Group for accountability purposes (which is super nerd-alert exciting for me) and camaraderie. My current goal for the next week is not just to WRITE but to work towards a more organized process. Any writers out there? What are your favorite organizational tips? I’d love to try my hand at some of your ideas or discuss them with my new writer’s crew. : )