Where the heat is. I took a writing workshop this one time, but it was at Esalen so it wasn’t really about writing so much as about being oneself and appreciating oneself which is what all the workshops at Esalen are kind of about, at least to me. Though during this one stone-carving workshop Mike and I did we made kind of cool stone blobs that have become treasured bookends while we were learning about and appreciating ourselves.
Anyway, so the writing group leader told us to go where the heat is in our stories, go to that place we kind of circle around and move away from, where our hearts are running and maybe our eyes are becoming moist. That spot in the story or situation where I get kind of embarrassed, and sheepish and I stop making eye contact, head in the sand-style like if I can’t see you then you can’t see me, or if I talk really fast and just string it together or change the subject abruptly I won’t feel so … uncomfortable. Like keep moving and it won’t hurt. She says it’s right then that we should slow down and really get into that spot.
So that spot for me gets activated when I admit that friends have started to ask me what I’m doing with this blog. That’s where there is some heat for me and it feels awful. Like nauseating. So that’s what I’m going to write about today. (Sheesh how long did that warm up take? Bad Bad Bad!)
The fear. Fear of trying to share these little bits and bobs with more people, Fear of thinking about what I’m doing with this blog. I’m not doing anything. I’m trying to have a nice time. I’m seeing what happens if I allow myself the pleasure and luxury of writing for its own sake.
I’ve been burned before. By that I mean I have burned myself before with ambition to do more than write, like write and get published, or write, and get published, and have lots of people read my stuff, like more people than my husband, my best friends, and my sisters, which is already a bit more than I feel totally safe about. I am very very very very uncomfortable being read. And I desperately desperately desperately want to be read. A lot. And to be of service. Have people read my stuff and feel better, smile, relate, contemplate and maybe even act with more kindness towards themselves and others. I know. It’s a big ambition. It’s a lot. And so many people have done such a good job with writing stuff of that sort before. There’s a lot of that kind of thing out there. Like an industry. The world has Oprah, and Buddha, and Shefali Tsabary and Anne Lamott, and a lot of people saying all kinds of wonderful stuff. There are a lot of people saying a bunch of crap too of course so I could say it would be maybe useful to just put one more grain of sand on the non-crap side of the scale if I might. That would be the side of the scale I’d aspire to anyway.
But I’ve been writing pretty consistently for a little bit now. Journal-y stuff, granted, but not exactly a journal. There’s some voice on this blog that’s not just for me but for you too. So even if I try to say I’m writing for writing’s sake, I want to write for writing’s sake the way I play tennis for tennis’ sake knowing I’ll never be paid to play tennis, it’s not the same. Part of the thrill of writing is being read. It’s a communication sport. Sure getting stuff out is great, but having it land in people’s heads and hearts is the next level. And then the next thought comes: I am not ready. Ok. Ok. Ok.
So my friend Robert came over (see how I just backed away from the heat of acknowledging someone I don’t even know might someday read this – or might not?) and he was kind of discombobulated as we all get sometimes so I read him something I’d written about how we all get discombobulated sometimes – confused, blue, weird, gassy, fed up, frustrated, hijacked – and he seemed to feel a bit better after being reminded that the world was not ending he was just having one of those very human, very common, moments and that a very reasonable action to take in response was to simply have a snack and wait for it to pass.
And then he asked me, “So what are you doing with this blog thing?” and I said, “I just want to keep putting my butt in the chair and writing stuff that makes me smile.” And that is the absolute truth. I do not want to cloud this ride with ambition for more right now. I am scared shitless of the judge, the mean voice, the demon who rises when I tug that leash and try for more. But I’ll think about it, it’s not a never or an inconceivable. But I’m not ready, not today.