As a writer I need to write about all aspects of my life: the good, the bad and the ugly. I need to feel like I can express myself freely. When the writing is good, it doesn’t come from me so much as through me; I’m a vessel through which the words flow and I just try to catch up to the thoughts racing through my mind and get them all on paper.
The writing hasn’t flowed like that for some time. I’ve been blocked. I’ve blocked myself. I’ve deliberately avoided writing about certain aspects of my life — namely, the darker ones — or I’ve written about them infrequently and shared them with almost no one. Partly to spare other people, but mostly to spare myself.
When you reveal certain things about your life, people look at you differently. I don’t want people to look at me differently. I don’t people to be offended. I don’t want sympathy. I don’t want advice or suggestions on how to get over my grief; it’s quite possible that by the time I’ve shared my writing with other people I’ve already gotten over the bulk of my grief. And maybe what I’m most afraid of is total silence, no reaction at all, my words rendered insignificant in a sea of bloggers talking about nail polish, Justin Bieber and Reality TV.
But in the end the reactions don’t matter, because I don’t write for the reactions. I write for the release I experience and the truth I might find.
I am by nature a truth-seeker, and for me, writing has always been about documenting, revealing or discovering truth. It’s why I kept journals growing up and it’s why I’ve told other people’s stories as a journalist for almost a decade. Some people find refuge in fiction but in a strange way I find it in reality. Writing helps me to understand and make peace with life.
We live in a world where false facades have become the norm, where people desperately try to reinvent themselves on social media, showing off their successes and hiding their flaws, proudly announcing engagements but hiding all evidence of the fact that they ever got divorced. We hide behind these facades — from other people, but mostly from ourselves. I have never done well with facades and I don’t want to cultivate one through my writing, or lack thereof.
To a degree, though, I guess I have been hiding behind a facade, living in a sort of denial. By downplaying the existence of certain parts of my life and denying myself the opportunity to write about them, I’ve denied myself the ability to come to terms with these events, discover the truth about them and fully move past them. Writing about these experiences certainly won’t change what happened, but it could very well change me and how I look at them. And maybe my transformation will help someone else along the way.
I love going to concerts, but I’ve seen Jay Z six or seven times now, and writing about his concert is really not what matters anymore. It mattered to me at one time because it was about finding joy and experiencing something new and establishing my career, but all of that’s been done. I am no longer moved the way I once was. I need to write about the things that do move me. I need to share my opinions, my thoughts, my experiences. Even the ones that aren’t bright and shiny.
And maybe I won’t write about everything, and that’s fine. But I should at least feel like I can write about everything. Because it’s all mine.