Staying Real

In Creative Inspiration on October 16, 2012 at 12:43 am

I’ve stalled enough. I’ve waited for the correct circumstances to appear to inspire me to write. The truth is, you can’t wait for the right circumstances. You must create them.

If inspiration is a gift from the gods, then one must first make an offering. That offering is usually in time, focus, loyalty, discipline, and ego. Especially ego. Give it up. Offer it up. Slaughter it upon the altar as joyfully as you would a chicken to the Caribbean spirits of Vodou, dancing and inviting divinity to ride you.

If that sounds scary it’s because writing, or any art, at its heart, is an act of vulnerability. You are revealing your authentic self and clothing it in words for others to see.  You craft those words so others can understand what you understand and sense what you sense. Writing, at its simplest, is an act of expression, and I find that I’m stuck starting this blog because I’ve, instead, been looking at writing as an act of production. I’ve focused on what I believe others expect out of the result of this process, instead of simply focusing on what I feel, what I see, and what is the best way to be communicate that.

Not only is writing an act of vulnerability and expression. It is essentially the continuous practice of imperfection. You can’t create until you accept that you will not produce anything perfectly. No creating happens without this realization. Even a technical writer has to work within the limits of his knowledge and vocabulary. The best way to test and stretch those limits is to simply write , expressing your idea as best as you can in order to find where the blind spots are.

I wanted to call this blog “Staying Real”, partially because I like how it sounds like a cross between “stay black” and “keeping it real” but, truthfully, the inspiration for the title is from a quote from Brené Brown about the perils of authenticity.

“’Staying real’,” the practice of authenticity, “is one of the most courageous battles that we’ll ever fight.” Authenticity, she says, is , “the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

So I have to embrace who I am every time I write this blog. I remember writing an editorial column for my college paper that was printed every Friday. I felt naked every Friday that I walked onto campus. That feeling never went away no matter how much positive response to the column there was. I’ve been avoiding writing this blog in order to avoid that feeling. However, I now realize that feeling is an inevitable and essential part of the process.

I’m going to write every day, freewrite, long hand, for at least 10 minutes, and at the end of the week I’ll edit one (or more) of my freewrites as I type it and then post it. No excuses. Every Monday, there should be something new posted here, whether or not it’s perfect. This is how I’ll engage the practice of vulnerability and imperfection. I offer this up. The dance begins.

  1. Years ago, when I went to my first professional conference, I had to good fortune to sit with another artist over coffee and talk about art into the late hours of the night while everyone else was sensibly drinking beer and dancing. He had at least 20 years of experience on me, being a little bit older, and having started his career at 17, He had faced his share of discrimination and resistance from the industry itself, and so I thought his self esteem must certainly have taken a beating as well.

    And yet he was full of grace. He was as calm, and peaceful an artist as I have yet to meet. He was generous with newcomers, more-than-quick to point out false pride where I had it, and quick to the defense of others.

    “Do you ever get scared?” I asked him, chewing on the cuticle of the nail of my writers hand.

    He laughed.

    “It never goes away, Sarah,” he said. “all you can do is invite it to pull up a chair and sit down…”

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