(Disclaimer: This blog expresses my personal opinion. It is not offered as a substitution for proper, professional care. Please do NOT try this at home.)
I’ve been writing now on a daily basis for almost eighteen months. Along the way, I’ve had all types of experiences, met mostly wonderful people, and, in general, grown immensely as a person.
I am a lucky writer. I came into this experience guided by a coach. I’ve had the loving support of a good friend. I’ve met others along the way whom I love, admire, encourage, and support.
I was blessed.
It is that simple.
I was also blessed to have a father who made his living writing.
One of the key things my father taught me was that writers need to protect their voice. This was not a recommendation to avoid or ignore meaningful critique, which would help a project grow, as much as it was a warning. He made clear the path was littered with hurt people, that the very act of claiming “I want to write” was enough to bring up the negative emotions of others. Sadly, one of his fiercest critics was my mom.
And yet, my dad endured. He wrote. He applied himself with professionalism and zeal. He licked his wounds. His recoveries were not easy affairs. I hated to watch him suffer. He modeled for me that recovery took as long as it took.
I was blessed to be raised by a man who was raised by a woman who honored emotions, and hence, my dad is one of the most emotionally solid men I know. He taught me not to be ashamed of how I feel, or that I hurt, or that the careless wounds of a friends or loved one were the most damaging of all. He taught me it is a duty to protect your voice and protected mine until I could care for it myself. Sometimes, he told me not to let people get my goat, which I discovered was another way of saying “don’t let people get to you.”
Problem is, people do get to me. I wonder, “Do I even have the write stuff?” I’d like to pretend a negative comment or an attack is something I brush off, but I don’t. Especially, not from a friend. In reality, most of us don’t brush it off nearly as well as we might hope, and yet, writing requires our ongoing visibility. You have to put your work out there in order to progress a writer.
Visibility is a tough one. I have (close to) 300 blog posts largely finished, not yet published. I fear personal attacks and calloused criticism. We all do.
So, today I am writing for one reason and one reason only: because I was back on the path to silence. I was returning to my shell. Because I had been wounded by someone I thought cared. As I write this, I am shaking. If I push the “publish” button, it could happen again.
And yet I’ll push it.
The harm was done, I hope, with no awareness.
I have a right to be here as much as anyone.
So, that today, every day, I can join the legions of people who sit quietly at their computers and scare themselves as they boldly go where they’ve never gone before.