One of my favorite writers is Lillian Ann Slugocki. Full disclosure – she’s also a friend, and we’ve worked together to promote her latest book, The Blue Hours. So yeah, I love her work because I know her, and I helped her with some late stage edits, so I feel really connected to the piece, as though there’s a little bit of me in there, too… but beyond that, and before that, I loved her work. Before I even met her. She wrote some unbelievably raw material in a book called The Erotica Project, along with writer Erin Cressida Wilson who was an old college buddy. Yeah, again… the personal connection.
But over and above and besides that, I love her work because Lillian is fearless. Not in life! God no… who the hell is fearless in life?? That doesn’t really exist. We’re all afraid of one thing or another or many things at once. I’m talking about in the words she commits to on paper. The prose she signs her name to, and puts out there for all the world to see. She talks about things that I want to articulate, things I know and feel and have experienced or would like to experience or am afraid to experience. She goes there. Past thoughts of judgement, past ideas of who she “should” be or what she should or should not be allowed to say. She doesn’t give a shit.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
I have staggered into my writing, unsteady, lurching forward and then cowering in anxiety and paralysis. I have choked it down, then spit it out, laughed and cried it into existing, and then, once emptied of my words, shaken with the emptiness of expectation. I care so much about what you might think that I have to will myself to not care, just to protect my heart. I am not afraid to say this anymore, because honestly, I want to care less, and maybe this will help.
I want to write about things that make you uncomfortable. I have written stories that make ME uncomfortable. I’ve heard it said that if you aren’t making someone uncomfortable, you’re not really writing. Well then. I guess it’s going to be a battle between fear and discomfort. Which one wins??
I write a lot. All the time. In fact, I’ve begun to develop some chronic discomfort in my lower back and groin from sitting, cross legged in front of the computer for hours at a time. Curse my natural flexibility! It’s not working in my favor right now. I’m stretching out muscles that should not be stretched so much, in service of stretching others that have lied taut for too long. I am still trying to find the balance. My body is confused by the rapid unraveling of my mind’s freedom. I’m in transition.
I write different things for work than I do in my blog, and in the secret notebooks I keep near my bed. I joined a private fiction site where I share fragments of stories with writers much more accomplished (read: published) than me. I gladly except the random bits of praise that come my way, and I dutifully read the works of the other writers, offering my generous comments whenever it feels genuine. I want to be a good community member. I want to be part of the club. I want to be – no wait, I AM a writer, too. We just talk to one another, because this is so.
The walls between my different kinds of writing are coming down. All of my identities are merging into one self which is me. Complicated, putting my issues out there for all to see. Turning a smart phrase on behalf of clients on the one hand, opening up my heart and sharing my fears, fantasies and visions on the other. Turning the difficult thoughts and feelings into characters and situations several steps removed from real life, in order to make them into stories I can view with some degree of perspective. I just want to create journeys. I am preparing myself to put more of my work on the line and receive not only the praise but the criticism of many sets of eyes.
I see my future, and it contains me, writing, afraid but doing it anyway. No wait. That’s my present. It’s already happening.
Photo courtesy of Eric D. Weiss