I don’t particularly believe in psychic abilities or cosmic purpose. Well, I don’t believe in them with my predominantly science-clinging muster-brain. But I dream about them and write about them because I want to believe. And sometimes my heart has its own belief chapel, despite my best efforts.
That said, if anything were to convince my muster-brain that such things exist in a tangible and consistent way, it would be timing. The overlap of seemingly unconnected conversations, and the oft apt merging of my variously sharded personality, leaves me standing in the field of arrival, agape at a star coated night sky that smiles while it shows me its temporary panoramic brilliance. I’ve a growing suspicion that these connections are not there all the time, waiting for me to shift in such a way as to be able to see them. I think they aren’t there until I’ve shifted to see them; that final shift is what connects them, and until that moment, the strands swish in the wind of maybes, waiting.
A couple days ago, I fell into a lovely exchange with a (new to me) writer here. We discussed blowback from readers and boundaries for writers during personal posts that involve other non-fiction people. Impact, quality of the relationship in the writer’s piece, and type of reader, were all discussed as factors in the way negative feedback is handled. For example, we readily agreed that it makes no sense to stick around for trolls, but that the non-discussion line gets fuzzier when intent is being consistently mauled by impact with a reader who is an actual person, and, possibly, involved in the story.
On entirely separate, and unrelated occasions, I have written about my ability to be criticized, my hideously stealthy introversion, and my frustrations and successes with the daily post challenge that I started, apparently, 224 days ago. These three posts were written miles apart; they sit in my trunk of written life in the same way that their truth sits in the living room of my character. I hadn’t questioned their existence or their seat in my personality; they just lived with me like good roommates who occasionally get home late and drunk and make me sad about my life choices.
Last night, I got to chat with another writer on Medium. She’s a lady whose character has long impressed me as she is different in ways that carry clearly across the screen, and whose writing has never been anything other than exactly what she wants it to be. She’s not a troll; she’s a real person, and one who has invested in me from the getgo. When she offered her perspective on my writing, I listened.
One of the questions she asked me is why post daily? Not: why write daily, but why post it? Why publish it? It gave me pause. We both acknowledged that not every single daily post of mine is…well, an actual post. There are a great many that are even introduced as bullshit posts. And her question, “why publish it, then?”, made my thoughts still. She asked, and I could hear them in the forest of my plans, listening to a rustling that didn’t live in those leaves.
I told her that when I first started writing on Medium, I was a casual, convenience writer. I wrote when the whim took me. If I had nothing to write, I didn’t write. There was no discipline or organization to my approach. I decided to do the daily post challenge to instill the same sort of discipline in writing that I have cultivated in music. I published each day to hold myself accountable.
But, as I sat to write my daily post last night, it occurred to me that maybe I’m not that writer anymore. Maybe I am accountable enough to trust myself with writing daily, without a fantastic community to back me up and help me stay focused. I wrote the post, supposedly a humor one, and watched the dialogue in it get strained and harsh as I typed. The stress in my unanswered self-awareness was in my post, in phrases that needed none of that meandering ish.
I had to call the post off, and sit and be overwhelmed. I was remembering the conversation with my new writer friend about whose voice matters and when, and I acknowledged that this was an instant where the criticism, the question, was worthwhile. Necessary, even. I was feeling the weight of having expended too much social energy, despite enjoying every second of it, and I could feel my ability to be communicative trickling away like rumless egg nog down an old tired drain. I was feeling every shift in my writing over the last two hundred odd days, and wondering how to walk on the new landscape of my words.
I had to let all the pieces be their reborn single sculpture, in the center of my character.
Then I woke up this morning and realized, fuck no, I’m not accountable. Hahaha no. Not yet.
But, I’m not worried. I’ve got 141 days to get that nailed down.