243 days. 32 weeks. 8 months.
And by the time this piece of pseudo-professional prose is deemed decent enough to be permanently posted on this semi-successful blog, even more daylight will have burned since I’ve been able to call myself a real-life writer, and not just the prolific pen(woman) I claim to be in my dreams. Now, before that declaration gets twisted into an argument of linguistic semantics, my years-long creative career counts not.
The Copywriter title heading my email signature is a daily reminder that my supposed talents as a wordsmith are squarely contained within a corporate box built from stacks of brand guidelines. I spend hours tucked away in a small cube, but with an impressive tri-window view, riffing on carefully thought out prompts and shedding light on subjects that meet strategy and the bottom-line. At work, my writer’s voice is not my own. It speaks for many and not just one, and creativity is controlled.
But, as every craft-master knows, authentic artistry is born only when untamed creative passion pumps blood into the artist heart, and creative freedom keeps it flowing. Without a free-weaving path to self-expression, like a tangle of veins carrying life-giving blood out into the body, a clever visionary cannot clearly see the beauty – the rarity – of their spirit.
Ultimately, that’s what attracted me to writing a blog. I could build a space – unhindered, directionless – to create and share. I could raise my voice, unedited (okay – not really. Lest I commit the cardinal sin: your vs. you’re. The struggle is real. Even for the most seasoned prose pros). And there’s not a damn thing anyone could do about it. No red pens allowed here.
Caution had no place here either. I wholly committed to pushing past my threshold for vulnerability. I gave myself permission to get comfortable with uncomfortable honesty. I pledged to be unveiled and exposed.
I stood strong in my creative convictions until getting real got too real. Somewhere in the middle of my creative path, I got stuck. My scripter wheels spun around and around, kicking up bored ideas and debilitating doubt like patches of dried, stale dirt. The words sat, stuck in my brain like a pile of 10,000-pound roadblocks. I struggled to pick them up and put them on the page.
In some (passive) writer’s circles, this all-too-common-and-wildly-frustrating phenomenon is coined Writer’s Block. But your more honest authors will call it what it is: Afraid of the Page. And I’ve been terrified.
To the untrained eye, a blank, white page looks like nothing. But creatives know better. A blank page is full of anxious expectation and a whole heck of a lot of power to reveal inadequacies. The audience expects a piece that is new and fresh but still smells and tastes like what’s familiar. And, trust me, we want to deliver. But the pressure to create something just as good or better can be stifling.
In my own artistic journey, I began to question the validity and caliber of my talent. I wondered if stories my words had built held any weight or if, like one wrong move knocking flat a house of cards, one (or many) mistakes could dismantle my self-proclaimed calling. That in fact, a proficient pen(woman), I am not. My creative and imaginative spirit – like the mop of mousy brown hair, coiled and unkept atop my head – became frayed and a little tired. Because I chased perfection.
I’ve spent eight months losing sleep and hitting the ‘backspace’ key because I was convinced I had nothing left to say. Nothing eloquent or poetic, anyway.
But in the time I’ve spent hiding from the blank page, a lot of life has happened. *** I’m about to get really cagy here, but I’ll unpack it later *** I have fallen deeply in love, discovered new places and faces, dug up old dreams with new promises, and learned more about the woman I am.
All of this newness has brought along lessons and truths. When it is unpredictable, life is most beautiful. And I should write about it.
Above all: I don’t need to be perfect to be loved. And neither does my art.