I wanna get better

I’m going through the blog and reading over everything this week. I’m trying to distill all these posts and figure out what my writing is about. Like Margaret Atwood (but nowhere near as good), I don’t want to get too meta about how I write or I’ll overthink it and the writing won’t flow. Unless I’m writing an article, which I haven’t done in ages, I try to just start at the beginning and see where it goes.

I read over this post today. I’m not comfortable with my use of metaphor. I think it’s sort of cheap. What can sound like waxing poetic and lyrical can really just be me hiding behind pretty words. I can slay with words. I have so many of them at my disposal. When I get the analogies right, the piece develops an organic theme. But even at my best, I don’t know that I’m effectively communicating what I want to say. I’m coming off as cagey. I’m hesitating in the pure thing I want to say. I’m making my feelings artful instead of making them true. The writer in me wants to luxuriate in heartbreak and longing. The human in me just wants to feel fulfilled and contented. Those two aims, juxtaposed against one another, are battling foes.

I’ve written and written about the same themes here not because I love repeating myself, but because I’m constantly trying to find the “in” to a more finished result. I started going back through the old stories from 2016 when I was writing about a life that was in its second infancy. I can see myself in that work. I wasn’t ready to call myself a writer or a creative just yet. I had this grand idea for a novel that revolved around a woman waking up in the hospital to find her ex-husband sitting bedside because he was still listed as her emergency contact. I didn’t make that part up. It happened to someone I knew and I loved the idea in 2005. I didn’t even know I’d go through my own trauma. I didn’t know that I would want closure of my own.

I still think there’s good bones in that manuscript. It’s stilted though. I’d get stuck a lot writing it. At the time, I was working with a life coach who was trying to free me from insecurity. He asked me to write non-fiction as writing exercises. Those stories ended being a lot more interesting to me. They flowed from my subconscious to my fingers and onto my phone so fluidly. They rang true because I was able to disengage from the present and give all my loyalty over to the written word. When people who knew what was actually going on in my life read these early pieces they were a little shocked by how self aware I really was. I came off as a disheveled ding bat, I think.

I think they thought I was unaware, when really I was acutely aware of a lot, but not everything.  I am constantly surprised by what I don’t know, especially when it comes to people in my life whom I think I’ve sized up but who still manage to throw me for a loop.

So, I’ve gotten myself to the point where I’m a good writer. I can sit with my phone in my hands and knock out a piece I under 30 minutes. Where do I go from here? How do I grow? How do I challenge myself? I don’t want to stagnate. I want to find out what makes me uniquely me in my writing that gets people to read along and care. How do I capitalize on that while continuing to improve?

Whether I like it or not, writing…serious writing and not just journaling…requires an audience. I have to get used to that idea. I’m sending out messages in bottles. I have to know that means that I’m trying to connect with the people who read them, as begrudging as I am about it. I’ve gotta work on that too.

I just wanna get better.

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