August 10, 2009
Musings on writing and blogging and taking risks
I want to blog more—indeed, I want to write more in general. Part of the problem with doing so, of course, is that it involves… blogging/writing more. My major problem is feeling like I don’t have anything interesting to say. Perpetually. I’m a quiet person to begin with; lately it seems like waiting until I have something I feel is worthwhile to say leads to my saying nothing at all. The problem, of course, is that little phrase I feel, the inclination to self-censor my thoughts, observations, and creative impulses, because who could possibly find them interesting?
An important part of the equation when writing for public consumption is taking risks. For some reason I’ve recently been thinking about the oft-misquoted phrase from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he will come.” Regardless of whether people refer to “he” or “they,” the emphasis is usually on the second clause, the results. Your dead father will come back to play some ball. People will flock to your venue. Your business will flourish. Of course, what one misses when one emphasizes the second clause is the level of risk-taking necessary to get to that point. In order for he/them to come, you have to build it. You have to cut down part of your cornfield and build that baseball diamond. You have to go kidnap that famously reclusive author and take him to a ballgame. Okay, on second thought, committing a crime would probably be stretching the analogy too far, given that kidnapping a famously reclusive author at finger-point is unlikely to work out as well in real life as it did in the movie, but you get my point, I’m sure: in order to get that desired result, you have to take some risks. You have to put yourself out there. Some of the best experiences I’ve had, some of the closest friends I’ve made, came as the result of sticking my neck out in some way or another.
This is especially important for me to remember given the fact that my current desired career path depends on being published, and I’m not going to get published if I don’t keep sending things out. This is tough, because rejection letters sting, and it’s hard to be sure whether a piece getting repeated rejections means a) I just haven’t found the right home for it yet, b) it needs revision, c) both a) and b) (hey look, it’s like an SAT question!), or d) I should scrap the piece entirely.
And then somewhere in the midst of all that, plus the day job, I have to eke out time to do things like vacuum. I don’t know how I feel about this whole being a grown-up thing, y’all.
Anyway, though, the bottom line is that if I don’t start putting myself out there more, if I don’t ease up on the self-censoring, I’m not going to be able to move forward. And the simple fact is that there are enough people out there that I bet these sentiments don’t apply solely to me, so it makes sense to make these thoughts and observations public, no?
(On a tangentially related note, here’s a lovely post about building a relationship by sticking one’s neck out, though perhaps an adolescent writing a fan letter might not realize that counts as sticking one’s neck out. Writing a pissy letter about having received a form letter in response to one’s initial fan letter counts even more so, though that’s another instance where the fact that it worked out for this person is not at all an indicator that it would work out that way for anyone else…)