Last Friday I attended an orientation for the MFA program I’m starting. I met a classmate who warmly reached out and suggested I join this group, although I took the suggestion to be more of a command since I’ve never seen anything that so perfectly describes my relationship to writing. I am the epitome of an insecure writer, which is not something I want to be, but of all the things I am insecure about writing might top the list.
There have been times when I’ve sworn that I would never stop writing because it was the thing that I absolutely had to do to be ok. Some people maintain their state of ok-ness by exercising (ha!), or by painting, or by maintaining close relationships, or by baking or doing charming and brilliant crafts, but for me it was always journaling and writing poetry that was fueled by painful growing experiences. It was the best way for me to comprehend what was taking place, and provided a place I could express the full extent of my emotions without criticism or judgment.
I’ve grown up with depression and anxiety, and with a whole host of other emotional and mental health issues that stem from those things, and largely from being too sensitive to function “normally.” Everything is a punch in the gut or a stab in the chest. I’ve often felt that my deeply emotional responses are too much for people, and are too heavy to exist anywhere outside of writing. To make a long story shortish, I stopped writing for myself a few years ago. I stopped writing regularly in a journal, I stopped writing down the poetry that was the surprising byproduct of the things I let ferment inside me, and I stopped believing I had the right to invent worlds and people that I knew nothing about just for the sake of invention. After a few writing classes here and there that emphasized the confessional style that is so popular right now, the mantra “write what you know” began to feel like a creative death sentence. I didn’t want to only confess my traumas, my stories, my mistakes. I was still too raw and still too young to act like I had any wisdom around them. Those things I wanted to keep in my journal so that I could distill them to their purest form and use that essence to make my characters more human, more flawed. But I didn’t want to write about them yet.
Now I’ve decided that the best way to get back into writing regularly is to enter a program in which I am forced to write, because as a product of the Catholic church and the private school system I am a sucker for discipline. Sadly enough, I need to be told to write, to keep a blog even. You should see the list of blogs I’ve had that never made it after a few weeks or so. I know that this won’t always be the case, that I won’t always need discipline and deadlines, but that’s why I’m here- to get used to those things for myself so that I can apply them to my writing life after I’m no longer in school. And honestly, I really like school when I’m learning about things that I like. As someone who was always good at English and horrible at math and science, I’m finally living the dream I’ve had since 6th grade of getting to go to school for only writing. Middle school me is very excited.
So hello to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group folks- I’ll be checking out lots of your blogs today and introducing myself in the comments. I’m really glad to know you’re around.