Someone on Facebook just now told me I should write a book.
And it’s an awesome compliment, because the person who told me this is a successful musician in a band that I really admire. He makes a living doing what he loves. I think that’s incredible. He’s not shy about sharing his opinion. And we often have great conversations through Facebook. He said he often agrees with my opinion. Wow.
For 1.5 years, I had a newspaper column. I ultimately quit just shy of a year ago, because it was too much pressure.
And while I don’t miss the anxiety it caused, I miss the respect that column brought me. People still ask me about it.
Writing 500 words only once a month was extremely difficult for me. I like to elaborate. I’m more literary than practical with words.
The column of which I most proud, about the shame of the v-word, VAGINA, was so nerve-wracking to compose that I went out and bought a pack of Marlboro Reds to start it. I smoked ONE cigarette, and felt so vile that I was in even worse shape to write! I didn’t touch the rest of the pack. I had some Blue Moons in my fridge, from when I moved in. They had been there for several months, since I bought it for my friends and I don’t drink. But I was so nervous about writing that, I drank half of one beer.
Writing is terrifying.
And I’m so Catholic. I want to do right by everyone. By God. My family. My friends. Even those who have betrayed me without a thought– I still care about their feelings. I still don’t want to sully their name. I hate being angry. I try to deal with it myself.
My problem is less about lack of courage– and more about TOO MUCH empathy. I need to think LESS of others.
I was so worried about what my father would think about that column–he’s such a Republican. But even he said that while he didn’t necessarily agree with me, he was proud of me for writing it.
That column was a true victory for me. I endured my anxiety and overcame it. And I’ve never been more praised for a column than I was for that one.
And today has been hard. Because I’m upset about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Upset that we lost an incredible actor- a good character actor– because of drugs. And a clip of his performance as Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous,” was discussed in a Salon article. I read Salon regularly. I posted and I shared it on facebook. I admired the monologue of his character in that movie, who talked about being “uncool,” and how as journalists– that’s our job.
Funny that I’ve been out of the industry for a long time, but I still consider myself a journalist. I can’t help thinking like one.
Really, journalism or any TRUE writing is like being a parent. You have to be somewhat detached. He said, “Be honest and unmerciful,” because that’s the truest way to be someone’s friend. And I fully agree. He was making a point that it’s especially true for celebrities and icons, because they’ve grown accustomed to being adored and to getting away with things because of their talent and influence. They’re not used to be held accountable, and that gives them the idea they can do whatever they want.
But this true for all people. We ALL need to hear the unfiltered truth. We CANNOT do whatever we want. There are consequences.
Everything is a choice. Do we choose the good or the bad? We have to live with all of it.
And I can’t keep this blog going the way I have been. I’m a devout Catholic, yes. But I’m not Mother Theresa. I don’t just exude joy all the time. I do have regrets. I do get angry. I do make mistakes, all the time. I’m as human as everyone else– but it feels amplified, because I’m a writer. I have a compulsion to share my life with the world.
It makes all my choices seem so much… bigger. Harder.
But I still love writing. And today, I feel a heavy twinge of frustration. Because I once I wrote an awesome blog after watching “Almost Famous.” I wanted to find it today, so that I could post it. I remember that in it, I talked about that same Lester Bangs scene. But it’s gone. I deleted it. I remembered writing it, but forgot I had deleted it.
And it really sucks, because I suffered from the affliction he was warning against in that scene– being too attached to your subjects. I once admired someone so much that I couldn’t write about her. I thought she was a great performer, and I wanted to do a story about her for my local newspaper. She had been a huge support when I first started my blog, and I wanted to do something for in return. I interviewed her parents, her siblings, her past teachers, her boss and her bandmates. I wanted to write a story about her because she’s from my hometown and I thought her passion for music and the way she pursued it was truly inspiring. I had more than enough information.
But I never published the story.
Her reaction– the reaction of the people I interviewed– became too important to me. I canceled the story. I felt like a failure.
But it’s a true testament to the professionalism of her and the band– because they weren’t angry. They never treated me differently. They continued to be happy when I came o their shows. And I respected them enormously for that. They were just glad to have me as a fan. And maybe they figured out that I was too much of a fan to write about them.
And I suppose now I’m too attached to my own life to write about in a way that’s honest an unmerciful.
But I’m working on it. I deal with anxiety. Most writers do. But I don’t have any way to release it really– except writing. Unlike most writers and artists, I don’t have any good vices. I don’t smoke, write, or do drugs. That means I feel all my feelings, all the time.
And while I’m proud to be sober, it makes letting go of my writing feel impossible sometimes.
I delete too many of my blogs– as my subscribers know. Usually the ones that are the most honest.
I did it this week, again.
Being a writer is terrifying, as I said.
But I love it. What a struggle!
Deleting my blogs is an act of insecurity. It’s something I’m trying hard to stop doing.
How do all you bloggers have the balls to leave all yours up, even when they don’t get comments??
I admire you.
Putting your feelings and opinions and musings in writing– and then PUBLISHING it.
That’s a small act that takes untold amounts of courage.
My courage wavers. But I’m working on it.