WARNING: My writing can be sarcastic, profane, irreverent, wise-cracking, and somewhat serious, sometimes all in the same paragraph.
This blog entry is prompted by a question I have asked myself a lot over the years:
Why can’t I write when my stress and anxiety levels go up and come up hard?
The answer to this question comes from something I learned very early on about women writers: we’re really good at keeping our writing out of sight and sound from people in our lives.
From Jane Austen hiding her manuscripts under a desk blotter in the sitting room anyone someone came over, to Margaret Mitchell and Danielle Steele writing in their laundry rooms with their typewriters on top of the washing machine, to Nora Roberts and Jackie Collins writing on spiral notebooks in the carpool line waiting to pick up their kids, and to countless romance writers I knew and read about who would get up early or write after everyone had gone to bed… I learned that my writing was something I had to keep out of sight and sound.
Because women, whether they’re married or single (like me and Jane Austen), take on a lot of responsibilities and the busybody-assholes as I will now refer to them make sure that if it looks like we might be thinking about slacking off on those responsibilities (which we would never have done), they made sure to let us know we were the bad guys for wanting to have some sliver of a life for ourselves. In my twenties when I was a caregiver living at home, I felt like I was under constant scrutiny and that if I stepped out of line enough the shit would have hit the fan.
I’ve written here about how my parents asked me to stay silent in the face of busybody-assholes trying their dead-level best to butt into my life and shit all over me. I understood why they asked me to do that but thinking about that now I feel like they denied me something I should have been able to do, and that was to stand up for myself. I should have been able to tell people who wanted to butt their noses into my life and try and run it for me this:
Back off and deal with your own fucking shit.
Because I feel like people who butt their noses into other people’s lives and try to dictate how other people should live are trying to avoid dealing with their own lives and yes, their own shit. And no, I’m not being a bitch here for saying that even if someone reading this may be feeling more than a little butt-hurt. I say this because I was doing my dead-level best back then like I do now to stay out of everyone’s life and not tell anyone how to live their life. And most of all, I’ve been working my ass off to deal with my own shit as I’m fond of calling it.
No, this is not an attention-grab or any bullshit like that. This is for anyone who has ever felt like they’ve had to hide a part of their lives from everyone around them.
I look back now and feel like if I had kept writing through the worst of the shit-storms I went through in my twenties and thirties, I wouldn’t have had near the amount of shit to work through, and I wouldn’t have had to box up so much crap from back then to deal with now. I look back and think I should have been able to keep writing through all that and if anyone had found out and said something to me I should have had the freedom to tell them to back off. But I was not defiant back then like I am now. Back then I was terrified I’d set off a shit-storm if I pushed back or gave anyone anything they could use against me, and yes that would have included any writing like a journal or diary that I could have used as a therapy source back then.
Prince Harry recently said his family’s motto was always, “Never complain, never explain.” I think that motto is for tons of people and families around the world and yes, I will apply it to my own. Because I’ve been told to my face in the past not to complain, that I had NOTHING to complain about even though in reality I wasn’t complaining so much as trying to explain myself. And that’s what I’m doing now: explaining and not complaining. To me, complaining is running your mouth and expecting people to go along with your high-handed bullshit and if they push back then they’re the bad guys. Explaining is talking things out and trying to find understanding in how you think and feel.
Writing is my way of explaining and trying to find answers to questions about why I think and feel the way I do. I think writing is about finding truth and that’s not a popular thing with some people in this world. Because if your truth doesn’t align perfectly with theirs then that’s when the shit could hit the fan.
To any writer reading this who feels like you can’t write, or shouldn’t write when your stress and anxiety levels skyrocket and things come at you fast and hard: I understand your feelings and it’s okay to have them. But you don’t have to give in to them either. And if there are people in your life who feel like they can dictate when you write or should write or any bullshit like that, feel free to use my rude-and-crude response: back off and go deal with your own fucking shit.
For me, luckily I’m working in a vacuum and that means as of right now I’m not getting any direct communication telling me I’m an asshole, bitch, or that I should just shut the fuck up. And every time I think of this, I hear my father’s voice in my head telling me that’s one less piece of bullshit I have to deal with and to keep doing what I want to do with my life. The old man is right as always and I would do well to listen to him as I think other writers should, too.