I read a piece this weekend by a former student of mine and now fellow writer/author. Amanda, like a few others I know, is really digging deep and writing authentically (here’s the piece I’m talking about).
She made me turn the mirror on myself and see if I practice what I preach in my writing, or if I am one of those e-Posers, creating a false image of who I really am.
After thinking about it for the last 24 hours, I’ve come to this conclusion: I’m walking the thin fence, and I wobble a little to the left, a little to the right, a little too often.
What does that mean exactly? Well, to be honest…
What I Am Noticing
I believe everything that I write, everything that I preach, everything that I share. My mantras on love, kindness, wellness, and spirituality are all sincere — not just for you, but for me as well. All of that stuff is true.
The wobbles come in when we start talking about what I will call “selective posting.” Like Amanda writes, we’re all at least a little guilty of it, in some way. Right? We hold back the negatives that might cast a harsh light on our otherwise stellar lives. We keep in the backs of our minds our jobs, our family, our friends, our relationships. We are careful to walk that smooth line atop that fence, keeping our opinions in check, making sure that what we say, or write, or do does not become a misconstrued piece of evidence to jeopardize any aspect of our lives as we have crafted them.
In effect, though, we are becoming a mirrored image of the not-so-transparent people that we pose to be in our online worlds.
Do you get that? Do you see what is happening? In our effort to use social media to build ourselves up, we are actually using it to build nothing more than a superficial prototype of ourselves.
This is not who we are! And yet, the more we put in to that image, the less we can access that core of who we really are.
There’s another thing that happens, too: We spend a lot of time doing two things: logging in and logging out of the virtual world, and spending a lot of energy trying to get back to a place that we are losing touch with.
Thoreau called it the masses leading lives of quiet desperation. I think that, in this 21st century, Thoreau’s editor would change that to “…masses leading desperate lives of quiet superficiality.”
It’s sad, but it’s true. All it takes is a little mindfulness to slow it down long enough to step off the train and get reacquainted with who you really are.
Then hold on to that knowledge and never, ever surrender it.
What I Am Changing
Well, for starters, I’m going to use this space to be a bit more… uncut. My friend Steve has always liked these kinds of posts. He says that they are raw, real; something he can relate to. That’s what I want to share with you: more of the real side of me that isn’t always shown in a polished piece of writing. That begins now.
I’m also changing the frequency with which I write in this space. A good friend of mine, Jackie, writes a blog called the BaltimoreBlackWoman, and I find her words to be so encouraging and sincere as she embarks on this journey of online writing and publishing. Last month, she PM’d me and asked if everything was okay, as I had not been publishing much here at the Baltimore Writer. I assured her everything was fine, but it made me realize that I wasn’t seizing an opportunity to write more, share more, be authentic…more.
So that’s a big thing: Walking the walk while talking the talk. I want you to get to know me as a writer who freaks out about synthetics sucking all of the negative ions (and creativity) out of his soul, who charts methodically — obsessively — about every character’s nuances and every twist and turn of the story’s plot.
I want to share my more personal thoughts that are behind the polished pieces I write.
In essence, I want you to get to know me 3-dimensionally, where the struggles and challenges of living are made apparent in such a way that you can identify. That we can say we’re going through this thing called life together, holding hands, and taking our steps forward with courage and determination.
That we can say we knew each other more deeply than what was printed on the page, the screen, the tablet.
That we can say we appreciated the genuineness of our words, of our friendship, of our ideals.
That we can remember that we are not alone, that we are deeper than our social media avatar, that we are more loving, more gentle, more kind than we might have let on.
That we love, that we need to be loved, that we need to deliver love.
Those last few grafs sure sounded pretty plastic, I know. They sounded like the stuff I always publish, and maybe that’s the part of me that’s transparent. I believe in those things; I really do.
But what I believe in, just as much, is authenticity, through and through.
So there’s this:
I’m a writer runner, skipping over projects sometimes two at a time to get to the safer piece, usually without the deadlines, so that I can continue to feel productive. I am immensely deadline-driven, and I lose myself whenever possible in the non-structured wilderness of brainstorming, generating, and molding of ideas.
But for me to be successful, I have to stay close to the core of who I am. That’s a daily struggle as a writer. I have enough freelance gigs now that I can hop from story to story without feeling too guilty. Hey– I’m writing all the time; isn’t that what this life is all about?
Yes and, well, no.
The stuff I’m writing isn’t deep enough. I have to stay closer to the core, and more often, to really capture the words to express what I am thinking, feeling.
It’s not about hopping from deadline to deadline; in fact, it’s the complete opposite. It’s about crafting pieces deeply and then finding homes for them afterward.
It’s also about being genuine with myself, more often.
And that’s what you will be hearing from me, more often, here at The Baltimore Writer.