At the feedback reading I attended this week there was a point in the conversation where they were trying to transition the discussion from one writer to another and one of the moderators posed the question, “Why is it so difficult for people to open up and be vulnerable with their lives in their writing”.
One of the authors had already admitted to writing from other perspectives about other events and people and how even though there might be parts of her own self reflection in them, they were not written from her raw personal experiences or perspective. In other words, if there was a first person “I”, it wasn’t her. She said she was ok with her significance (or insignificance), but still felt challenged by the idea of exposing herself in her writing.
My first thought was that I don’t have that same problem, because I write about my own life every day. However, considering further, what I am writing every day is largely anonymous and all my words are lost in a sea of other wordpress posts, twitter feeds, instagram pictures, and snapchats. In other words, there is no spotlight and therefore I’m free of worry about what people think.
I’m not going to get on my soapbox again about not giving a crap what other people think. I may talk a good game, but in reality, this is what is at the heart of the matter when it comes to answering that moderators question. It’s in us to care. We care about our image and what other people think of us. We care what is said behind our back and we get offended or defensive when there’s a finger pointed. Is it human nature or is it something we learn from society? Nature versus nurture.. who knows? It doesn’t matter how it got there, the fact of the matter is that it IS there.
In 2010 when I started my first blog (Thanks Vis), I posted about how I seemed to have acquired the ability to travel invisible (Traveling Invisible). Similar to writing and having that be insignificant among the vastness of the internet, I was a person traveling the world and quite unassuming compared to the vast majority of other human beings who were also traveling. I don’t stand out and don’t make waves and therefore don’t draw attention to myself. My writing is very similar.
Did you read a few days ago how I refused to take a position about the immigration issue where parents were being separated from their children? I didn’t and thus escaped spotlight or pointed fingers or making anyone upset with me (save for one person who left a questionable comment – that I never approved, ha!). Anyway, the point is that insignificance is freedom. On the other side of that door, the one labeled spotlight, is a whole host of problems that can be avoided if you just choose to never walk through. The second that changes, it’s an open invitation for the universe to put you to the test.
It remains very easy for me to continue to expose my world to the Universe at large because of my insignificance. I always live either so far above the 10,000 foot view or so far in the details I’m like Waldo among the rest. In jest, I have challenged people i know personally to find me, to find this part of me. It’s apparently not that tough, because they have. Some have. Others seem to dismiss the challenge because let’s face it, it really is extremely insignificant in the grand scheme and is only important for me and my process and my purpose. Of that, I am acutely aware and very OK with that.
The camouflage of insignificance is perhaps the reason I have not yet taken the next leap which is to start submitting my poetry for publication. Perhaps. Though the logical, mathematical brain in me had already calculated the change in parts per million in that equation and so I already know, that will not matter either. It’s just an excuse.
Today I’ve got the writing workshop that always accompanies the feedback readings. Another opportunity for inspiration and a deeper dive into the selected topic of the day “Origin Stories”. No doubt it will be a positive experience despite being thrust back into a social situation where the spotlight is sometimes unavoidable. It’s all about scale.
Where’s In the World is Waldo Now?