About a month ago, I went to a panel discussion and networking event and a guy there asked me to send him a writing sample. Turns out, he hires writers. So I went down this rabbit hole of trying to find something to send him. Everything that I’ve written and published more recently felt too personal to send to a professional contact, so I read some of my old writing about mundane topics: lighting in dressing rooms, design-build firms in LA, human-centric lighting design.
I went down this rabbit hole of reading my own writing—and here’s the semi-shameful part—I surprised and delighted myself. Yes, I felt a surge of pleasure and pride in my own work.
Falling in love with your own writing feels, in a word, super lame. Kill me now. I want to go to sleep right now just thinking about it (Coffee give me strength).
I’ve been wanting to write about the mystery of writing—that part that you don’t control, the words that flow despite your thoughts, not because of them—the part that feels like magic.
So much of this series I’ve been doing on writing feels like trying to demystify writing. It’s just words on a page. Get over yourself already. Stop being so precious. But I think one of the reasons that writing can feel so vulnerable is because of the mystery of it.
How many times have I started to write one thing and then ended up writing something else?
I have to admit, when people tell me that I’m a good writer, or even if I repeat back their words in the first-person, “I’m a good writer!” I feel a sense of alienation.
What exactly do you follow that with? It sounds like this final pronouncement, this badge, this designation, do I get a plaque for this, where’s my members only jacket?
No really, I’m a good writer. If you say anything enough times, it starts to sound like a lie, that hint of a doubt.
Somehow, I feel exposed—like, they don’t know the truth. They don’t know how much of this feels like something happening to me or through me or despite me. And I don’t know if it’s this deep sense of shame—that everything good in me is a mistake, an accident.
And maybe if I can keep a safe distance from everything good in my writing, I won’t have to be present to the mystery of myself and all the things that I can’t control.
Somehow it’s the things that are the most effortless and easy that are the hardest to accept.