So here’s the funny thing about being a writer in 2018. You have all the options for self publishing, sharing your work, connecting with other creatives–or so they say.
No one talks about the crippling insecurity of trying to carve out a space for yourself in front of hundreds, if not thousands of people that you’ve amassed before you decided to “get back into writing.”
You’re just as tired as anyone else of the personal branding, the guru worship, the algorithms and the self-proclaimed expertise of people that just decided to give your long term passion/craft a try (in hopes of making a few extra bucks a year.)
But you’re working, there are things happening for you creatively and you still feel torn. Torn between not wanting to seem braggadocious and the aching need to get these pieces out of your drafts and out into the world.
You look for writing groups, you look for resources online, you ask a few friends to read your work over email.
You submit something to a local reading night and your work gets selected and you read it and it’s well received.
You want to keep going.
So you start writing more, working harder. You get your heart broken and you end up with a few of the best pieces you’ve written in years that you think are important because there is some girl, 21 or so, going through her first heartbreak and you know if she comes across this piece, it has the potential to really help her.
If nothing else, you know that when you write, people tell you how relieved they are to know they aren’t alone. That’s all you want for them and for yourself. You don’t want to have to live this alone, write it alone, leave it alone. At least bring it out, into the light.
The blog is too public, it feels. There are no boundaries there. You want to know that the people who read these new things, these pieces that continue to evolve and improve, you want to know that these people actually give a shit and aren’t just scrolling, bored on their phones, reading about the raw hems of your life lessons.
But then again, what right do you have to censor yourself?
If people want to read your work while they’re on the toilet or screenshot it and send it to their friends via group chat, you don’t really get to object.
Can you post something online and then try to submit it later, when it is strong and solid and you’ve sunk hours and hours into editing it? Can you stand having that work rejected? Do you even know where to begin in that process?
You know they didn’t teach that process in college. They don’t really want you to know how to enter those spaces, unless you get the degree and preferably an MFA. You are afraid your work reeks of independence and that what you consider polish and revision to other people just reads as self-indulgent dribble.
You consider if any of that matters to the people who read your work and are comforted by it. You wonder if that makes you just as bad as the banal, bearded Instagram poets. You wonder if wondering that makes you a judgemental bitch. You wonder if maybe you’re over thinking all of this.
The fear of being not intersectional enough in your deeply personal essays and your heartfelt, ardent advice to your younger self will result in your being skewered by the communities you consider yourself a part of. You wonder if you have any right to share, to create, to do anything as just another cis white girl struggling with the very normal cycles of life.
Sometimes you miss writing in your notebooks as a kid, by yourself, for hours on end, at the same desk you’re sitting at now. It’s a black Singer sewing machine cabinet. It used to be a refuge.
You miss the freedom of writing as a hobby. Then you wonder what it would have been like if you had actually focused on school, finished that degree. Do they hand you a packet with instructions on how to be a writer in the world with your cap and gown? Will you ever get over yourself for not finishing college?
You make a mental list of the possibilities:
Patreon: Would people pay a dollar a month to see these other pieces? Do I have any right to charge for access? Can I explain to people that I just want to know they aren’t reading out of morbid curiosity?
Newsletter: Will people even trade their email addresses for this work? Can you feel brave enough to hit the send button once a week on a piece that feels like a nude photo? What if someone forwards it to the person you are writing about? Why are you so afraid?
Submissions: Can you figure out how to submit to publications? Are you able to put your ego aside and ask for help? Can you reframe rejection as a practice of tenacity and contact management and deadline agility?
Blog: Will people care or notice when you post something different? Something nearly unhinged and a bit rough and potentially oversharing? Do you have any right to talk publicly about the men in your past and the memories of your childhood and the very unsexy parts of being nearing 30 with a bunch of banal baggage?
Zine: Can you save it all up for a season? A year? Then put it in a combined PDF and get it printed and then what? Sell it? Leave it around town in tree branches and bathroom stalls? Will people tease you like you teased that girl who does the interpretive dance that you secretly love and want to be?
You decide to toss all your inane worries into a single blog post and put it up for now and see how you feel tomorrow.