Alrighty, Internet. I had enough feedback on my last post to feel the need to apologize for my knee jerk feminist reaction. The handwritten permission/international traveling thing goes both ways – dads need moms’ handwritten permission, too. It’s an annoying hassle, all because (per usual) asshats who want to hurt children because they’re egomaniacal, self-centered asshats are making the process of living and having fun more difficult for the rest of us. Yes, I’d rather sit for 10 hours in a foreign country’s detention center because they want to make sure everything is copacetic than have my little girl abducted away from me. And there are loopholes about proving you are who you say you are, if you have dipwad ex-spouses. So I was off base, as I typically am whenever I have a knee jerk reaction to anything. Is what I’m saying. I am my own most annoying person in my life.
But I still disagree with making airline passengers take off their shoes to get through security. That’s totally dumb and oppressive, people of Earth.
Today I’m going to write about writing. I know! Shocking! Shocking that I’m not writing about my odd, depressive, first world problems life. (I think THAT has something to do with -a- too many expectations for other humans followed by -b- having to get up for work at 5:15 AM every day. Remove one of those things, and all I’m really upset about right now is I can’t seem to save more than $65 per month. And my rent’s going up $75 next month.)
So I found this article via electricliterature.com: How Do You Know Your Writing is Any Good? Basically, the answer is there is no good or bad writing, there is only writing. Which sounds very Zen to me, so I like it. Some people love John Updike, some people are pretty much done with John Updike. Some people think Alice Munro is the most awesome short story writer ever (I’m on Team Alice, by the way), some people think she’s a total hack (these people probably just need to take a creative writing class). That’s the answer in a nutshell.
I have a friend who took some classes at the infamous Iowa Writers’ Workshop several years ago, and one big takeaway she had from it was that once you write something and release it to the world, it is no longer yours. You don’t worry about it. People will read it and interpret it however, from whichever lens they’re currently operating from. She wrote it much more eloquently than I just did, but basically I think the gist is: a piece of creative work that you choose to put out into the world, be it a short story, poem, song, novel, painting, sculpture, blog entry (*cough*), film, etc…these are no longer yours once you release them. They belong to whoever experiences them, and some of those people will interpret them as magic (this will make you feel good), some will interpret them as shite (this will make you feel indignant), and some will interpret them in the most bizarre ways you never even intended them to be interpreted as (this will make you wonder if the entire world is addicted to meth and probably smoking crack on the side).
Which I think means: trust the process, and then whatever happens you just let it go. Which is hard for me, I’ll be honest. Because sometimes people will comment on what I’ve written here and I’ll go: oh no, that’s not what I meant (and then I’ll feel terribly insecure like, well obviously I did a crap job at writing what was in my brain so others would understand) Or sometimes in writers’ workshops I’ve been all: no, might you have a reading comprehension problem? Go back and re-read page 10, paragraph 5; you’re totally missing my point.
But then I think about all the high school essays I had to write about what Edgar Allen Poe was REALLY trying to say when he wrote his creepy story-poems (I think Edgar was extremely gifted, but also macabre…I totally would have joined him for several rounds of absinthe). But then I also used to read Danielle Steele novels in high school, thinking she was just the most amazing storyteller EVER (and now I can’t read a single word she writes, because I desperately wish her editor would teach her about the joys of using more punctuation). There was also that one time in 11th grade AP English when I had to write a poem about something from Nature like Walt Whitman did, so I wrote a 3 stanza Kyrielle poem about a gingko balboa tree I passed while taking a Walt Whitman-like stroll through my neighborhood. My teacher gave my poem a C, saying it wasn’t very poetic. So the next time I had a poetry assignment I literally plagiarized Bon Jovi’s lyrics to “Livin’ on a Prayer” and turned them in. For that, I was given an A and the comment: Really lovely sentiments! Very poetic! Which means clearly my 11th grade AP English teacher didn’t have a single literate clue what poetry actually is and also never listened to a Bon Jovi song in her life. Should have made her a mix tape of all their songs with a smarmy comment about rock star poetry on it when I left for Summer Break, but I’m too friggin’ nice. You want to be sort of an asshole to someone and get away with it? I’m your gal. (At least for several months, or until I get really sick and tired of you and unleash my wounded and insane inner She Devil upon you. It is not pretty.)
One of my favorite thespians talked about this creative process too – the process of create and release, the process of trusting the process. He said one of his first professionally performed plays was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the 80s, and when Edinburgh’s two major newspapers reviewed the very same show of his play, the first (early morning) newspaper said it was absolute drivel of the worst kind, theatre goers should avoid it at all costs. The second (later morning) newspaper said it was the most glorious student production they’d ever had the pleasure of sitting through, and if theatre goers didn’t go see it they were missing real theatre magic. Same theatre, same play, same show time. But two different human perspectives.
So basically what I think this all means is: nobody has all the answers, therefore it just is what it is. Some people think Mona Lisa is ugly, others think she’s got a simple but ethereal beauty. Just depends on who’s looking at it, their hormone levels and mood, and how abusive their childhoods were and in what manner. And the reason I’m writing all THIS is because I’m having an awfully hard time writing non-blog entries. I think because literally nobody reads this blog. My mom (occasionally), my sister-in-law (mostly), and some very sweet and loyal friends now and then. So I pretty much say whatever, and sometimes I get pushback from it (or a corrective email from my mom) and sometimes people are like: wow, you’ve got ISSUES, Amy (as if this is new news). But mostly, this is practically a place of tumbleweeds so I just spew my spew and let what happens happen. But when it comes to writing real stories that I’ll have to send somewhere to someone to literally judge whether it’s publishable or not, I get all choked up. I sit in front of a blank screen going: where do I start? Or I look at a screen with words on it and go: That is such crap or look at a screen with words on it, type the word “The” and sit there for ten minutes not knowing what the next word should be. Is this writer’s block? Or writer’s rustiness? Or a crisis of personal faith? (I actually think it’s really just severe insecurity because it has been a YEAR.)
I know I’m much better than say I was when I was writing here January – April, but not better. I had a really, really icky year which gave me a lot of story fodder to write about, but I don’t necessarily know HOW to begin. (For the curious: my stalker has left Twitter, by the way. Possibly because of what happened earlier in May – I had it out with him publicly and then had to follow up, twice I think. One was to call him out on his constant need to play the victim, and the other was publishing something he’d written to me that had scared and upset me because when I say I’m going to do something, I mean business. You can click on my Stalking&Abuse page above to see my side of the conversation he’d been badgering me and demanding I have with him for months – I refused to do it privately because he’d had quite enough private time in numerous emails…plus, I was just going to screen shot and publish everything anyway, so what did it matter. I don’t know that’s why he left Twitter, or if he just got a new anonymous account and made the self-preserving decision to finally leave me alone [sweet relief], or what happened and quite frankly I don’t really care at this point. If I ever even sense he’s still stalking me or talking smack about me or blaming me for his own bad behavior, I will make 100% sure a letter to his wife makes it into her hands and there will be no way for him to prevent it because I’m not going to publish the method/s I’ll use to get it to her. He had his chance to behave like an appropriate grown up, and that chance has concluded and I’m taking over this crazed and utter bullshit.) (This is a fine example of my inner I’ve-had-quite-enough She Devil.) (side note: if you are being stalked, please do not attempt to do what I did…I chose to do what I did because he wasn’t presenting a physical danger to me and I absolutely listened to and endured enough. The best response to people who stalk/abuse others on the Internet is usually and continues to be DO NOT ENGAGE.)
I’m off track and meandering, where was I? I’m in a weird sideways zone still. I feel discombobulated and quite detached from the world right now. Focusing on me and Miss M now, I guess. Trying to get over this crisis of faith in self writing issue I’m having. It’s all fear-based, I’m sure. Intense insecurity. A need to be loved and give love, but a wary distrust of other humans now. Please stay consistent with me, other humans, I am being consistent with you. I love other people, but I’m constantly unsure of them. Maybe it’s because they’ll apparently take any kind of creativity you put out into the world and just mold and shape it to fit their own needs, which I guess is okay with me. As long as they’re not dipwads about it.
Basically, I think the focus of this piece is: other people can be real dipwads with your creativity, but don’t worry about that. You just keep on keepin’ on, because whether it’s bad or good, it’s all good. Which I bet could also be a useful metaphor for How to Live a Peaceful Life.