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Promises

April 14, 2012

When I started this blog, I had several goals in mind. First, I wanted a place to express myself. I didn’t tell anyone I know about it, not my friends, not my family. I wanted it to be a spot of shade, away from the glare of expectations, where I could relax and unburden myself. Second, I wanted to challenge myself to write on a regular basis. I arbitrarily decided that Wednesday of each week would be my deadline and I should always have something to post, no matter how trivial it seemed to me. Sometimes what I think is trivial has the power to move people. (It works the other way too.) I also just wanted to connect, to make connections with a world that is outside of my own and exchange ideas. There are so many wonderfully creative and insightful people that I can learn from and I hoped that by exposing my insides I might learn and grow.
I did okay at first. I missed a few weeks here and there, but I poured it out of me. I wrote what I wanted to write and didn’t think about it too much. But as time passed I began to become more focused on trivial things. I let myself get in the way. I might sit down to write and think how horrible my own writing is, so forced and stilted. I might read an article or see a news story that inspired me, but before I could even sit down at the keyboard, my mind would stop me, warning that no one wants to read what I have to say on the matter, or worse telling me that I have nothing unique to say and I should stop before I’ve even started. I’m sure I’m not the only person with an inner critic, that incessant voice that discourages you from doing anything and I’m also sure that this cruel critic serves some role in humanity, stopping us from doing bad things or manifesting horrible ideas. (Do you see here how that inner critic has taken over? Already I am backing away from my original premise.) The whole point, all of my goals boiled down to one lump of truth, was to find a place where I could shake off that critic and say whatever it is I have to say, good or bad. I have failed pretty pathetically so far.
It is easy to see how Emily Dickinson was able to be so prolific. When there is no expectation, no outside influence, no one to hold you accountable, it is easy to pour yourself on to the page. No one will read it. You need only please yourself. For the last two and a half years, I have kept a daily journal chronicling each day. I have missed only five days in all that time. It is a remarkably easy thing to do even though at times it is as dull as an eraser. I don’t expect that anyone will ever read it. It is only to satisfy myself and that is the easiest thing one can do. I wanted to translate that somehow to a weekly blog, to share this hidden part of myself with someone.
I am making this promise: I will post something to this blog every Wednesday. It may not always be good. It may not be something that anyone else agrees with or finds clever. It may be just a sentence or a stanza. But there will be something. I am not making this promise to you. I am making it to myself. I am posting it here to hold myself accountable. I will not let that venomous little critic that lives inside me prevent me from accomplishing the things I want to, even if it is something as seemingly inconsequential as keeping a weekly blog.
If you find that you have checked here for something to read on a Wednesday and there is nothing, please feel free to fill the role of outer critic. I should not be let off the hook.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2012 5:54 am

    I know that inner critic all to well. I am extremely harsh with myself on what I write and rarely expect people to like it, despite the fact that often I have people encourage me. A good year ago now (has it already been a year?) I had another blog that wasn’t on WordPress. I forced myself to write every day. Every single day, for over a year. And let me tell you, what I wrote to start with was .. .bad. It was really bad, I mean terrible! But I got better. Writing is like anything else, the more you practise the better you get and you already are practising that with your journal every day.

    So this is your new challenge, the new thing you need to practise. It’s not about the writing, it’s about the sharing. I know how scary that is, trust me, I’ve been there. But if you keep it up, and if you ignore that pesky inner voice you will get better at sharing what you write. Remember we are always harder on ourselves than others. You don’t need an original thought, you need to share what you think about it. You are the original, and no matter what you write you bring something new to the story to share with us. Sometimes it’s something we have never thought about and sometimes it’s something we have and we just appreciate knowing there are others out there who understand.

    • April 14, 2012 6:10 am

      Thank you so much. Your words mean a lot. As I was writing this, I was thinking about all the amazing people that the world may have never known had they listened to that pesky critic. I mean, “Old Man and the Sea”? It’s just about an old guy fishing. Sounds like nothing. But it’s inspiring. “Romeo and Juliet”? Love against the odds is a tale as old as humanity and yet “Romeo and Juliet” continues to astound five hundred years later. I read a biography of Harper lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and as inspirational as she is, being someone who poured herself on to the page with such clarity that the world stopped to take note, she also scared me. She never wrote another novel. She worked for ten years on a second book but that critic took over and eventually goaded her into giving up. She decided she could never top “Mockingbird” and that was that. I don’t ever want to feel that way. Thank you again for your advice and your kindness. I will try to remember the bigger picture, the journey, the sharing, rather than focusing on the trivial details.

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