Monday, February 19, 2007

Out of alignment

No, not my back, me. Well, I suppose my back is part of me, so technically it is out of alignment too, but jeez, you know what I mean.

A comment I posted on a friend's blog the other day, made me think about "who I am". This sounds a lot deeper than it really was. Basically, I looked back on who I thought I would be before the world of work and bills consumed my sense of idealism and adventure, and then examined my current reality to see how "in alignment" I was with what makes me happy, what fulfills me, what I'm good at, and what my dreams/goals are in life. (Again, I like to think of myself as fairly self-aware, so this didn't take too long.)

What I discovered, was this:

I'm a writer who doesn't write and an artist who doesn't do anything artistic. The third leg to my stool, being a foreign traveler extraordinaire, was the only thing I guess is somewhat in alignment.

I can't remember a time in my life where I didn't want to be a writer. I used to use up so much paper when I was a kid that my dad had to "steal" it from work in reams. I got my first electronic typewriter when I was 8 years old and, at school, I would beg and plead with my teachers to allow me to skip math so I could write a story. When I was 7, I wrote a poem about a rabbit caught in a trap and my teacher, Mrs. Beavan, told me that for the rest of her life she would look in book stores to see my name on the shelves. I developed an unquestioning faith that I was a great and talented writer and that I would be able to make this my vocation, no problem.

So, what changed? Well, first University. Writing all those essays and being "schooled" in how to form one's boundless thoughts into a pre-designated structure. Also, my degree in media and cultural studies, forced me to be a critical thinker - in both senses of the word. I got so used to analyzing media, questioning different people's interpretations of reality, that I sort of lost the ability to suspend disbelief long enough to let my own creative juices flow. My mind, once a rushing river of stories, plots and characters, channeled all my creative thoughts through a filter that analyzed and criticized them, even before the words reached the page. Then, there was work. The two jobs I've had that have required me to "write" somewhat creatively, have each moulded my writing to appeal to either someone else's idea of prose, or the limiting style that appeals to my "customers" (bullets, simple sentences).

In the process, I feel like I have lost my voice. And, when your entire sense of who you are and who you would be, was once formed entirely on a strong sense of your own voice and its "worth", I feel like I have also lost a sense of who I am as well.

Maybe there are some writers out there who can spend all day being edited, editing themselves for "commercial" purposes and then returning home to be creative genius extraordinaire... but it aint me. I guess it's like move directors. How many Oscar winning movie directors once directed commercials? There may be some, but I'm sure they're few and far between.

So, from the "poor me" to the "so what are you going to do about it"?

First of all, I'm trying to get over my fear of writing by rambling on in this blog. In a lot of ways, I think that's why I started this thing - to again realize the freedom of writing something without having others edit it or without editing it myself. It may be gramatically sloppy, creatively dry and really not all that interesting but it's mine, it's raw and it's not controlled by anyone else.

Secondly, I'm researching a creative writing class; probably one online since Sacramento isn't exactly the hot-bed of the literary community. I'd love to have an MFA in Creative Writing, but that's like thousands of dollars and a big time commitment... one step at a time.

Speaking of which, I'll address the "artist" part of my misalignment another day. This post is already too long.

There I go, editing myself again! :)


Joy said...

I would enjoy your stories more than your bullets too....someday.

CAW said...

Bullets? Did I miss something?

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