I’m taking an online writing class called Alchemy: The Art and Craft of Writing. The course is full of juicy stuff, but today I’m going to share what I wrote in response to a “writing prompt” (you write anything in response to a phrase provided by the teacher). The best part comes at the end with my teacher’s comments.
The prompt:What I want to say…
What I want to say is that I’m sad for myself how I turn something that was supposed to be “for me” (this writing class) into something that’s not fun (Oh yeah, why am I surprised? I’m the person who skipped the chapter on fun in The Happiness Project…) As I was reading part of the lesson this afternoon, I began to cry. (Again, why does this surprise me? I seem to have no shortage of tears.) My thoughts go like this: Why am I even taking this class? There is already so much great writing out there. The world doesn’t need another blog, or even another book. We’re already on information overload. Everything I might say has probably been said before. I can argue with myself as I’m writing this, but the fact is, my initial reaction to many things is one of pessimism, of defeat. It’s always one of why I shouldn’t be doing something. I shouldn’t be taking this class because it’s frivolous. I shouldn’t be typing at the computer when it increases my pain level. I should be making dinner for my husband who works full-time and provides us health insurance. I should be getting more out of the class. I’m not putting enough into it. I should be commenting on other people’s writing more. This is B.S. (I don’t really cuss, but maybe I’ll start someday). I don’t really think these things are true. It’s just so automatic to go down this path. The grooves in my brain are deep. In a second I go from a cheery, “Oh, I’ll look at the computer to see what’s going on with my writing course today” to a tearful “I’m no good. I’m in pain. I shouldn’t be doing this right now.” No wonder the last therapist I saw asked me in the first ten minutes why I wasn’t on a mood stabilizer! Interesting how this week is on Using Your Voice and I’m trying to silence mine. I’m going to post this now without editing or looking back, but I think (No, I know) there’s more to be said.
My teacher, Jenna McGuiggan, wrote this in response:
Barb, well I do cuss, so let me help you out for a minute: BULL SHIT to those naysayer gremlins in your head! (I’m really truly hoping you laugh here and are not offended.)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings here. I understand so very well the feeling of defeat that there’s nothing new under the sun. (Even the author of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible was bemoaning that fact!) And yet… there is only one of me. And only one of you. And no one sees the world like I do, or like you do. People don’t stop reading books or essays or blog posts, even if it’s all been said before in one way or another. And we shouldn’t stop writing, because until we write it, it hasn’t been said by us, in our unique way. Besides, writing is for you as much as for other people. I want people to read what I write, and I hope that they like it or are touched by it in some way, but I’ll always write, even if no one reads it. I write because it’s how I make sense of the world. I write because it makes me feel whole and more solid. I write because there is pleasure in having written.
May you acknowledge your pain and fear and doubt, and may you find a way to move alongside it, through it, and past it. I know you can.