Last night, as I was wrangling children to bed and attempting to thwart their sudden, implausible, EXHAUSTING conversational attempts to delay sleep (no, darling I DON’T think that the cat misses his cat brothers and sisters—he can’t even remember that I use cat treats to trick him into his pet taxi) and (I have NEVER ONCE seen a tarantula in the state of Michigan EVER so I don’t know how one could be hiding under your bed), I remembered it was Wednesday.
The fact that I knew it was Wednesday could be considered, under most circumstances, remarkable in itself, because unlike the last time I “knew” it was Wednesday, it actually WAS Wednesday. But this was no ordinary Wednesday–no! It was the day before my latest essay was to be released on Scarymommy.com.
Which meant it was time to commence with the getting anxious and self-loathing.
And the fear. Oh, the fear!
Under normal circumstances (i.e. circumstances that happen to people other than me), the concept that something I wrote was going to be published on a highly frequented, smart and well-liked media platform would be something to cheer about! Isn’t this what I have aspired to do for all my life, since I was scribbling love missives to third grade Tony with the freckles and writing poetry about my pre-teen despair (“I am a stone, without a home, my mother has grounded me from the phone”)?
This meant I was a writer, a real one. Right?
Well, uh, sure.
So why did the prospect of my work appearing on a public stage make me want to shimmy up the gutter to the roof and jump?
Because “being a writer”, as I have come to define it also meant that, like a cross-dressing streetwalker from the Red Light District, I was Putting it all Out There. And perhaps, not unlike the streetwalker, not all of what was out there was pretty.
And there are many reasons for this.
Reason Number 1: I try to be honest. I had a professor I love tell me that my best work came when I was completely truthful–that the words that resonated from my honesty were always the most beautiful. And like my hair and my large rear end, I really really want my words to be beautiful. And since I can’t have the first two, I settle for the latter. Indeed, raw truth evokes strong sentiment–either it resonates with the reader and they have a moment where they see their life in my words. Or…it doesn’t resonate with the reader and they have a moment where they see my life as a highly depressing, cat and child filled existence that should be avoided or possibly scheduled for some sort of intervention.
Reason Number 2: Honest is rarely perfect. While I can dress up the words in little frock coats and pantaloons so that they are, occasionally, beautiful, the true parts of what I write are not. Because my life is not perfect. I can’t dress up my stretch marks or 10 year old autistic son in 1920’s finery (believe me, I’ve tried). I wear my own truth because I’ve earned it. If I shed it or divested it from the messier parts, I’d be denying something I’ve earned through my trials. I can tell my story because it is mine. And often, because we are all threaded by common experience, by heartbreak and triumph, my story is your story too. And this makes me very glad.
Reason Number 3: The gladness is worth the fear. Maybe you will read what I wrote about being messy and realize that you aren’t the only one (http://momof4istired.blogspot.com/2013/04/im-mess.html). Or maybe you will read what I wrote about making and breaking my New Year’s Resolutions and realize you aren’t the only one (http://momof4istired.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2013-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=50).
Or maybe you will read what I wrote about my divorce, about trying to navigate the new space of being ex-friends and ex-lovers and now…nobodies to each other. And maybe you will realize you aren’t the only one. http://www.scarymommy.com/to-my-ex-husband/
And if you don’t find that my story is your story, I don’t really need to know.
You can keep it to yourself, that’s fine with me.
Just remember that it is scary to put it all out there.
And that like tarantulas under the bed, the fear is real– even when the whole world is telling you there is nothing to be afraid of at all.