Friday, October 23, 2009

A Guest Post

As regular readers know, I am in NYC with MTF, enjoying an elongated Reunion-related weekend. Posting while playing just doesn't work for me, and writing posts in anticipation of my trip left me brain-weary and aggravated.

Then my business manager/Little Cuter told me about "guest posting" and I turned it right back at her and here is the result:

(The language has been cleaned up with ****'s because I try to run a family-friendly blog here, kiddo!)

On A**holes and Writer’s Block

When the idea was proposed that I provide a guest blog for The Burrow, my stomach dropped, my shoulders slouched, my pulse quickened, a bead of sweat undermined my cool fa├žade. Sure, I write… I write chapter titles and flush them out with inane stories of my upbringing and off-color things that people have told me along the way. I wrote hundreds of essays in high school and college. Some even got published, and not once during those years did I have this intense nervous response. Could it have been the lack of structure I was apprehensive about? That I was not provided a topic on which to respond? Could it be that I would not be handed a letter grade, and therefore would not know if my performance would be up to par? Or could it be simply that I am a coward? That sharing my ideas in such an immediate space intimidated me to the point of wordlessness? Anyone who has ever met me would be shocked. YOU? They would say. YOU cannot verbalize a feeling? An opinion? An emotion? PUH-LEASE…
And then in my daily web-browsing I came across this photograph, and my brain unclenched:

If Kurt Vonnegut can publish a sketch of an a**hole in his novel Breakfast of Champions and still be revered by so many, what on earth do I have to be so intimidated about?


You see, what I had forgotten in my years after college, in the years removed from creative writing and over-analyzing for credit is that anyone can write anything, can say anything, and can express any opinion, as long as they can put enough words behind it to back themselves up. Talk long enough and someone is bound to believe you, all you have to do is participate. The filibuster works for a reason, people, and the daily grind of life, work, bills, and so-called grown-up-nitude (la-scope-la-glator) had numbed my ability to just express my creative self publicly. I had completely forgotten how to breathe, smile, lean back, put my hands behind my head and just share.

There are mental exercises that the FDA tells you can ward off dementia, and I practice them daily. I remind myself of my list of things to do, I play scrabble, I learn new words, new phrases and file them away in the “in order to appear intellectual to the masses” folder in my brain for later use. But one thing I have let fall by the wayside, a very important thing I just realized, is how important it is to exercise creative expression on a more regular basis. I am not an artist, can barely draw a stick figure, I’ve dabbled but never excelled in photography, but I used to be a damn good literary analytical student. But in these few years since college, I’ve completely stopped practicing. There are college counselors prepared to guide you through your major, guidance counselors prepared to walk you through your school-fueled emotional crisis, but there is no one there once you are finished with all the classroom learning to remind you to keep it up.

An epiphany that is years in the making, that perhaps I had because all of my education really did do its job, is that it’s not about who you can quote at a cocktail party (or that you knew to write “who” instead of “whom” on your guest blog). Instead the point of all of that time spent “learning” was not about the facts, but what you learned about yourself, and how to express it in a healthy forum.

That is why what Ashleigh is doing here is so important. She is exposing a side of herself that lay dormant for years. She is sharing opinions, thoughts, stories, and experiences that otherwise would fade gradually with time. By putting her words out in the world, by publishing them for actual human people to read she is showing us all that it is OK to keep growing, to keep sharing, to keep leaning back in your chair and smile, knowing that you’ve opened up a door in someone else’s conscious and participated in learning.

And look what she’s done for me. By encouraging me to share she has knocked the dust off the piles of education in my brain and forced me to get over my writer’s block. All it took was a little pressure, and a sketch of an a**hole.

1. 10/21/09
2. http://vonnegutsa****holes-day-one.html (edited for content by me 10/21/09)

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