On Writing Publicly

Sometimes when I write posts, after I hit publish, I think, What in blazers are you doing? Who is even READING this? It’s a funny thing, this blogging world. Sharing things with people you’ve never met. Wondering if you’ve anything interesting to add to the world around you. It’s one thing to privately journal, where there is no threat of anyone else reading your work and therefore no inner voice of self-doubt or criticism telling you to get each sentence perfect, to include just the right balance of honesty and humour, to write with precision, to be good. It’s another thing to write publicly, where the freedom and joy of writing can become masked by the simple act of producing something, and something which is good. Something which is of value.

Here’s the thing.

I love words. I love the art of finding good words, stringing them together in a beautiful way, and using the art of writing to tell the truth about being human. Someone once said that we read to know we are not alone, and I think we write to know we are not alone as well. Sometimes, after I’ve read a really good book, or even just a great paragraph, I can feel as though the author has been following me around my whole life. I can read a line and think, Yes. That’s EXACTLY it, and I feel connected to the great big expanse of people who share this world with me because somebody else gets it. Somebody else wrote about it. And the feeling that somebody, a stranger, has been inside my head and my life and my heart and WHO KNOWS HOW IT IS makes me feel less alone.

Like photography, there are two components of writing–the art and the technical. The technical can be intimidating and it’s something I try not to get too caught up in. The art though–the voice, humor, and emotion of one’s words– the art is what is most important. When you can touch your own insides — your own passion, your own truth, your own emotion, it somehow creates an opening for others to touch theirs. That’s what creates connection. That’s what makes us feel less alone. That’s what inspires us to live richer, bolder lives. That’s the heart and soul which feeds the surging, beautiful, brutal mess of humanity.

Always, there will people who like to read what I give out to the world. Always there will be people who won’t. This is true for all of us in our creative pursuits. This is true simply as a consequence of being a human – some people will like us, others not so much. Haters gonna hate. Lovers gonna love. None of it really matters in the end. I write, as freely and as truthfully as I can, because I do not write to be good, but to be happy.

“…it is the way you are to feel when you are writing–happy, truthful and free, with that wonderful contented absorption of a child stringing beads in kindergarten. With complete self-trust. Because you are a human being, all you have to do is to get out truthfully what is in you and it will be interesting, it will be good.” -Brenda Ueland in If You Want to Write.

All you have to do is to get out truthfully what is in you and it will be interesting, it will be good.…I love that.

She also says,

“when you write, if it is to be any good at all, you must feel free–free and not anxious. …I hate orthodox criticism. I don’t mean great criticism, like that of Matthew Arnold and others, but the usual small niggling, fussy-mussy criticism, which thinks it can improve people by telling them where they are wrong, and results only in putting them in straightjackets of hesitancy and self-consciousness, and weazening all vision and bravery. I hate it not so much on my own account, for I have learned at last not to let it balk me. But I hate it because of the potentially shining, gentle, gifted people of all ages, that it snuffs out every year. It is a murderer of talent.”

May we never be snuffed out, friends. May we find what it is that makes us feel free and happy and truthful and connected and just go do it. Write, crochet, take pictures, craft, bake, dance, run, sew. Don’t be afraid to do any of it publicly. Except the running. Maybe keep the running as an at-home thing. We are the only ones in charge of our joy – besides perhaps small people who ARE THE BOSSES OF US – and if we never get to experience the pure happiness of doing what we love because some people might think it’s no good, well then what in the sam hill is the point of anything?

Go! Pick up a paintbrush. Go paint some things!

Wrapping up the week with a Friday Photo Dump…the small, happy things of the week — @theredtent if you’d like to follow the Instagram feed.
july 25 firstjuly 25 second
Happy Friday! Now go! Paint!

2 Responses to “On Writing Publicly”

  1. Jenna

    “I don’t write to be good, but to be happy.” That says it all Rach, thanks for the post!


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