the right to write

How could it take 32 years for me to realize that I’ve always been a writer?  I don’t know but it hit me like a lightening bolt tonight as I was walking home from the bookstore, cup of coffee in hand, jacket zipped up and hoodie engaged.

For 32 years (ok less, seeing as how I wasn’t cognizant of anything for at least 5 of those early years) I’ve accepted the fact that I was a consumer.  I was an avid reader, collector, information gatherer, music lover, and buyer.  I fashioned myself as a sponge, satisfied with simply soaking in everything around me.  I didn’t think that I had anything to offer the world in return.  I would simply consume.  Enjoy.  Revel.  Marinate.

But that’s absolutely false.  I don’t know why I thought this.  I don’t know if I absent-mindedly fell into this self-perception or if my own self-loathing or self-esteem issues caused me to purposefully and intentionally convince myself that I was nothing more than a leech.  Realistically, I know it was both.  Regardless, the end result was the same.

Which brings me to tonight.  The mind is an amazing and treacherous thing.  Within the span of my four minute walk I came to realize, admit, and accept that I’ve been lying to myself.  And on this I know it was intentional.  A result of my own pathos borne out of years of feeling less than.  Not good enough as.  Better than none.

Four minutes is all it took for something, I’m not sure what, to unlock that part of my brain and suddenly my life really did flash before my eyes.  I suddenly realized, as I dodged a cab because I was so blind in thought, that my pathos did not match my ethos.  What I thought, my delusion as it were, was completely out of sync with how I had lived my life.

Throughout much of my adolescent and adult life, I have been a sharer.  A teacher.  When I was in middle school, I spent every afternoon, from 2:30pm until 4:00pm, in the school library reading books and more importantly, discussing them with the librarians so that they could have better insight into what books to recommend to other kids.  I coached my junior varsity softball team when I was only a junior and senior in high school.  In college I wrote and gave “sermons” (yes, I actually did give a “sermon” on a “mount”), led Bible studies, and mentored and counseled my peers.  I was a Campus Representative, giving a multitude of tours to prospective students.  In law school, I was a law review editor, specifically editing student pieces and shepherding them through the writing the process.

And all this time, I was writing.  Really writing.  Sure I wrote for others, and I took great joy in that, whether it be papers or speeches.  But I was also writing for myself and myself alone.  I have drawers full of journals filled with confessions, thoughts, ideas, essays, and short stories.  I have files and files on my computer of screenplays and spec scripts.  I have folders full of songs, some just written out, but some recorded.

But all this creativity is literally, in a drawer.  Or a password protected file.  And maybe, as cheesy as it sounds, it was all a metaphor.  There was this thing that made me happy.  Elated, even.  And it was mine.  All mine and no one else’s.  And I needed it.  Because as shy, quiet, or introverted as I am, I take great pride in my ability to be honest.  I can open up fairly easily if you ask the right questions and really listen to what I’m saying, and in those moments, I’ll tell anyone anything.  It’s part of my sharing/teacher personality.  On some level, I want it out there.  I want to talk about it.  I want people to know.  Of course, that’s when I risk being judged.  And it’s always where I’ve gotten hurt the most.  To put yourself out there and get rejected?  I fully recognize I come off as a tough chick who doesn’t care.  But we all know that’s not true.

But my personal writings, those things I put on paper, those were mine.  They weren’t for anyone else.  And no one could shit on it.  No one could make me feel bad about it.  No one would could make me feel less than.  It was my private me.

Which brings me to now.  I haven’t really written a lick for the past five years.  I couldn’t bring myself to put pen to paper.  Why is that?  My job?  Possibly.  A broken relationship that, while seemingly undramatic and routine from the outside, left me more fucked up and broken than I would allow myself to believe?  Perhaps.  More pressing familial responsibilities that made my love for creativity seem trivial and frivolous?  Sure.

Right now it doesn’t really matter what the cause.  I can spend years analyzing that question alone and I’m not sure I would get anywhere.  Or at least, the process of analyzing the “why” would surely serve as an impenetrable roadblock to fixing the problem.  No, right now I need to find the courage to go back.  To find that joy.  And I’m not going to get there by throwing myself a pity party.  Put simply, I need to put pen to paper.  And need to do it now.  Because I feel in my heart of hearts that I lost a lot of myself in these years because I didn’t have this.

The blogging has helped, and I suspect that it has had more to do with this sudden self-realization than I know.  But what started out as an innocent endeavor has morphed into something resembling a job.  It’s a job I enjoy, but a job nonetheless.  Whenever I see those messages of “Where is she?  What’s going on?  Why hasn’t the blog been updated?  Why hasn’t she posted this?” they engender the same reaction from me as when my bosses would hound me for work product.  As a result, I can feel myself getting resentful.  And as that resentment builds, I can see my creativity has dropped.  The quality has dropped because it is no longer an outlet for my organic creativity, but simply a response to demand and guilt.

I suspect this is the primary force behind starting this blog.  To start over, in a sense, and be given the freedom to do what I want, when I want, how I want.  I can share and write about those things that I love and that I care about, and discard the things that I don’t.

I’m beginning to ramble so I’ll get back to the point.

I came home from the bookstore with East of Eden, What Should I Do With My Life?, and a bag full of empty journals.  And I am making a commitment to myself tonight that I will put pen to paper.  That will write freely and I will write for myself.  Chances are these journals will end up in a drawer somewhere.  But I’m ok with that for now.  I owe it to myself to rediscover this thing that used to bring balance to my life and make me whole.  It made me better.  Better than what, I don’t know.  Just…better.


6 responses to “the right to write

  1. I love you. A lot. And I mean that completely seriously.

    (Also, this is making me think about some things… let’s just say I’ve had the same thought process over the last year or so but been way too lazy to do anything about it.)

  2. I’ve been sleepless for the past 2 weeks. I’m not sure this realization will fix that. But I know it’s a process. There’s just so much stuff in my head that I need to work out. Writing is the only way I can do that effectively and efficiently.

    Love ya, too, homie. Godspeed.

  3. Well i could have told you that 🙂

  4. I can only wish that when I am 32 I have reached this level of self-awareness and honesty.

    I hope your journey takes you to all the places you’ve dreamed of, Courtney.

  5. Cool. That is all.

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