“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say,
but what we are unable to say.”
~ Anaïs Nin
This quote stops me in my tracks. I find myself at a total halt as I read these words. They leave me feeling nervous and anxious. I know why, but I don’t want to admit it. I back up. I stare at them for a few minutes wondering if I can actually write about this. I realize that I already did.
I spent the last hour composing a blog entry. When I got to the end of it I felt so vulnerable that I decided that perhaps I should set it aside. Maybe I wasn’t ready to talk about it. I should go back to that quote I was looking at the other day. That quote that struck me so honestly – what was it?
It was this quote. And as I read it again in the wake of setting aside my writing it digs even deeper into my chest. I have to ask myself:
What are we unable to say? What am I unable to say?
I’ve thought alot about this. Not exactly in this context, but in the context of my life. I’ve spent most of 2008 learning about vulnerability. Everywhere I look I see the same ironic weakness. Everywhere I look I see the inability – the lack of willingness – to be vulnerable.
This weakness is born of a desire to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, the more I look at it, the desire for protection seems to create an atmosphere of insecurity and misunderstanding. We keep our thoughts locked up in our heads, allowing our point of view, a rather singular angle of perception, to shape the world around us – to keep us stagnant albeit safe.
In the case of my writing, this has kept my creations safely locked away where no one can see them. If I keep them to myself I am protected from ridicule. Of course the downside of this is that it perpetuates itself and creates more insecurity.
Even as I write this, in its third version now, I continue to delete paragraphs and rewrite them, afraid that this information will make me sound neurotic and insecure.
Ok – now we’re getting somewhere. I’m afraid of appearing neurotic and insecure. This of course means that I believe that I am neurotic and insecure. So, maybe I am. If I’m to speak honestly, I think most people are neurotic and insecure in exactly this way. That is why this closeted vulnerability is such an epidemic.
So, I ask myself – what am I afraid of saying today? Today, I’m afraid of what those closest to me will think of my story. I’m terrified that they will tell me that it’s no good. I’m afraid that they will tell me it doesn’t have a chance. I’m afraid that this will derail the momentum I’ve been building towards actually getting it finished.
I’m afraid of being told to that I should stick to being a data analyst.
I’ve heard over and over again that the cure for fear is to do the thing that you are afraid of. So, here I am. I’ve taken the first step and asked a few people to read the chapters that I’ve posted. I’m still afraid. Which means that I need to face whatever feedback comes my way. It can’t kill me. It can’t do anything to me that I don’t let it do.
The next step is to really put it out there. I have a progressive list of people in my head that I would like to have read my story. I hold back for the same type of fears and then some. This week I will start asking them. Perhaps I will start at the top of the list – the ones that I am most afraid of asking.