The white of the page stares back at me like an accusation.
"Why aren't you filling me? Where are all the WORDS??!!
They are here, I tell it, I know they are in here. I hear them, I see them, I write them in cursive, loopy scroll all over the hills and valleys in my mind. They are here. Waiting. For what, I am not sure.
For the perfect post? The perfect story? The perfect something.
The word loses it's meaning and any sense the more you write it or say it.
So why am I so stuck on it? Why do so many people get stuck on it? Why do we always feel like we have to wait for some ideal, exact, precise moment in time/space/life to DO something?
Perfect doesn't exist. It is a construct of our minds. A place/time/planetary alignment that is completely made up. And as such, this made up thing that we think will just BE at some point, becomes like an anchor, holding us in place, not moving, waiting, always waiting....
Want to know what I think?
I think that perfection is the flashy accessory that fear wears to disguise itself. Fear likes to be in control and the way it does that is by waving it's colourful, oversized, PERFECTION infinity scarf at us and telling us things like:
"The timing is not perfect for this right now, you shouldn't do it."
"These are not the perfect words to express your thoughts, you should wait until you have better ones."
"You aren't going to do that perfectly, so maybe it's just not for you."
Fear convinces us that if we can't do something perfectly, then it is not worth doing. That there is no use in even trying. Fear does not want us to go anywhere, have new friends, try new things. Fear is like that one controlling ex-partner you had who tried to keep you all to themselves and convince you that you are better off with just them. Fear is wrong. If there is no trying, then there can be no failing. And if there is no failing, there can be no learning, no doing better, no growing.
Right now, fear is keeping all the words locked up in my head. It is working hard to convince me that they might not even be there anymore, and maybe they never where, and I was only writing from a place of rage and righteous indignation because of my displaced anxiety and depression.
I want to tell you that fear is not winning. I want to tell you that the words are here and I am writing them and I am doing what I feel I was meant to do in this world.
The thing is...
Some days fear wins. I over-accessorize on the quest to PERFECTION and can't string more than a few words together on a Facebook post, let along a blank page. I busy myself with other life tasks. I tell myself that I have more important things to do than write. I don't put writing on my to-do list. I read other people's writing and think that I am never going to be as good as they are so why bother. I let fear hold me down and believe the story it tells me of my lack of worth as a "real" writer.
Last night I attended a lecture given by the one and only Margaret Atwood. I found out about the lecture on Sunday and bought a couple of the last tickets available. As I sat way up in the nosebleeds and listened to her talk in her distinctive, dry, delightfully vocally-fried voice for an hour and a half about life as a writer in the 60s and 70s, I wondered how much, if ever, fear played a part in her life, in her writing.
At one point she talked about how back in the day, she and her writer friends (you know, like Michael Ondaatje, Mordecai Richler and Marion Engel) never considered writing as a career. It was more of a vocation, a calling. Something that HAD to be done, and that was done, and then published, sometimes by hand-lettering and binding of first books in the back rooms of friends apartments and teeny publishing houses.
That statement above all else she said, has been stuck in my head since last night and for all of today. As I sit here and fight perfectionism and fear, and struggle to get these words on this page, I am making a conscious decision. I am a writer. I need to write. It is the best way I know to communicate my thoughts and ideas, and I truly believe in my heart of hearts, it is through my writing that I will positively affect change in this world.
THIS IS MY CALLING. And that is what you do with a calling right? You make the world a better place. Even if it is just a little bit.
My heart feels full and my mind is alive when my fingers are dancing on the keyboard. My soul is energized when I know that my words have spoken to another human being and moved them in some way (big or small). And sometimes, I also happen to crack myself up and need to write that shit down somewhere to remember it.
So, no, maybe today is not the day the New York Times is going to come calling and say, hey, YOU, come be a regular columnist and write for us and we will pay you loads and loads of dollars. And maybe this is not the year that I will finish the book I started writing in January.
But today, I wrote words on the page. Today, I took to heart Coco Chanel's advice, to "always remove one thing before you leave the house. Less is more." Today I removed that oversized infinity scarf /quest for perfection and wrote the words that are here.
These imperfect, choppy, words about words.
And this is a good thing.