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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dear Writing

Dear Writing,

I've missed you, though "missed" sounds woefully inadequate for that sense of longing, of not being myself at all without you. I've missed with you with a ferocious, desperate urgency, the kind that piles on heavier and heavier the longer I go without, the kind that invades every minute of my day I'm without you. That's the irony, though—that there you are, always, waiting for me, available, practically begging me to return to you. I know—too well.

I know you miss me as much as I miss you, and all I can say is, it's not you, it's me. Cliché as that phrase is, it's the truth. It's always me, when we're apart. And fear. Every single time I have ignored you, neglected you, pretended to myself I had nothing to offer, it's always been fear. Fear of not being good enough, fear of nobody reading, fear of everybody reading, fear of gigantic scary edits, fear of rejection. The fear is so big and loud and huge I often forget it's not the same thing as truth, and that the moment I start to release some of my words, to push out all the fear and noise and self-hatred, the surety that starting is futile when you don't know the end the moment you sit down, some of that fear disappears, just a little.

I've been reading this brilliant blog, Momastery, and I love the writing because it doesn't shy away from fear. There's all the fear, right out in the open. It's so easy to do the opposite, and to feel that to be successful you must do the opposite. Nobody wants to buy books or articles from a scaredy-cat, do they? No; instead you must sell yourself, all day, both your books and your ideas, in order to keep getting those checks and keep paying that rent.

It's not just that, though, that has kept me from you. I dream about you, during the day and at night when I'm asleep. I am reminded of you everywhere I look, those titles that sit on blank documents, patiently holding space against all that whiteness. In my head, some of that empty space has been filled in, fleshed out, animated. I know what will happen and "all I have to do is write it down." Ah, if only that were "all" anyone ever had to do. There are so many walls, so many times when that act of filling it on falls flat, doesn't even come close to measuring up to what I'd conjured. I think if I wait—and wait and wait and wait, which really means, procrastinate and live with constant guilt and fear—the answers will come, even though every wise person who's ever written or spoken about writing has concluded the precise opposite: that the only way to write is to sit and bring forth the words.

I know I will probably always be a little afraid of you, even though I also know that so often you are the only thing that can make me happy, or at least, content. Maybe that's what I'm afraid of, deep, deep down. I have had glimmers, hints, signs, of late, that even when I neglect you, you still keep coming through for me, like that Morrissey song, "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get." The acceptance for that story I wrote based on a cabaret show, the excellent interview I submitted to a dream publication but know will likely have to find another home, the "scary" essay that has made anyone I've mentioned its topic to laugh and look at me a little askance, with just the right hint of "you're crazy" to let me know that yes, I'm crazy, and should be sharing the craziness. The rereading those old pieces I'd forgotten about and realizing they still work. The writing workshop and talk and camaraderie. The marveling over a gorgeous sentence in a book that's been tucked away, just for the sake of taking pleasure in the words. The gratitude for all the chances, and second changes. The chunks of minutes I've dared to sneak away with you, but only when I have to be somewhere, or my battery is dying, anything with a shortcut, an off switch, but still, chunks where I got something down because I absolutely could not do anything else any longer.

I hate feeling so estranged from you, hate feeling like a fraud when I say to someone I'm a writer. I hate seeing the moment pass because I was so worried about perfection, that mythical way of being. I am bad at promises; the act of making them seems to kickstart something in me that causes me to immediately rebel and not live up to them, so I won't bother. Just know that I never truly left you; I've always been here, thinking about you, wanting you back. Maybe that's part of the work, the missing and reuniting, the push/pull, the lows with the highs. I'm as bad at mindfulness as I am at promises, but I want to try to do better by you. Starting with this.

Love,
Rachel

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