It bugs me that I am always so intent on deciding whether or not I am going to invest in exploring myself as a writer. Why can’t I just write, or not, as I feel like it? Why do I always have to analyze, and DECIDE—or try to—whether or not I am a “writer”?
Maybe because it IS an investment. It takes time and, yes, money. How can I justify putting my time and money into writing when these things could be spent on soccer lessons for the kids, say, or a trip to Disneyland (well, over time, anyway)?
Which is why I feel pressure to succeed. If I succeed (and the definition of success is up for debate), then I can claim that I have talent. And, of course, if I have Talent, then I am justified in the investment because we are commanded, after all, not to hide our candles under bushels.
But that’s just so much pressure. There’s the pressure to be good, so that I can justify the time and money it took to produce, and then there’s the pressure to SHARE what I’ve done. Two problems, then: 1) How do I become good without investing some time in practicing (and some of that practice is going to be lousy)? How much time to I give myself being not-yet-good in the hopes that I will become good before I give up and decide I might not be good after all? And 2) How do I quit thinking about that need to SHARE and get some privacy in my mind to explore what I really have to say? I am always so very concerned with audience, always planning on sharing things eventually. And that is stilting to the creation of art. It is as if I am making little deals with God: “Make this poem/essay/story turn out well, and I will use it to build up the kingdom.” So then, whenever I am tempted to write anything that might not build up the kingdom—might hurt feelings, or (perish the thought) give someone the wrong impression or (worst of all) possibly lead someone AWAY from the kingdom, I hesitate to write it. And hesitation impairs me. My work is shallow because I worry about these things. It will never be truly great if I do not allow the possibility of pain, misinterpretation and all to come into what I’m doing.
By avoiding risk I am condemning myself to fluff. I might possibly entertain, but I will never really move people.
And look, here I am again talking about moving people as my goal. Can’t I just write for the joy of it? Why do I need to have an altruistic goal? Well, as I said above, to justify it. Because, although I don’t think it is wrong to have a hobby just for the joy of it, with no value for anyone but myself, I’m not exactly sure that writing is all that joyous to me, or good for me.
But maybe it could be, if I could someday really give myself free rein to write WHATEVER I wanted, whenever I wanted it, with no thought of audience. I don’t know. I’ll have to think about this.
I DO know that I get joy out of producing a good poem that really says what I want to do. So maybe I WOULD do it just for myself.
Hmmmm. I will ponder this some more . . .