Permission to Breathe

A little while back, I posted about my commitment to posting on this blog. But it’s been a couple of weeks and I haven’t posted. I haven’t abandoned my blog, though. I have been working through a lot that’s been going on over the past few weeks, and I needed to scale back on what I was doing. There simply wasn’t enough time in the day to take care of everything.

Normally, I would have felt guilty about stepping back from some tasks and commitments, but this time I chose to reframe how I thought about it.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)

I still stand by my commitment, but I’m beginning to learn what the Preacher in Ecclesiastes might have meant. Sometimes it is a time to refrain. When it’s time to refrain, it’s actually worse to try to push on. For my own mental and physical health, I took a little while to refrain. But I’m coming back.

I’ll write more again soon.

A New Commitment

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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

As I begin the process of restarting my blog I think it is useful for me to establish my purpose and goals in blogging. What is it that I hope to get out of blogging? I want to be a better writer. I want to grow and learn in the craft. To that end I think that posting on this blog will help me by keeping me accountable as I am forced to post on a schedule. Ideally, I will be able to get feedback from any readers I might be fortunate enough to acquire along the way as well.

I also get a lot of catharsis and enjoyment out of writing. That coupled with the introspection from learning what makes my writing better and more enjoyable (both to read and to write), and the experimentation that goes along with that make me almost giddy in anticipation.

So, where does that leave me? To what am I willing to commit myself? I want to be careful to not overcommit and quit from being overwhelmed. I will start, I think, with the goal of posting fortnightly and the goal of gradually increasing frequency to a roughly weekly cadence. I intend to write about my journey as I try to become a writer. I like to think of these posts as “meta-writing”. I will also post some of the short stories I work on and some samples from longer projects I am working through. I hope you enjoy and are willing to embark on this adventure with me. Bon voyage!

— Brian

Fear and Loathing in a Text Editor

I’ve recently come to learn two things about myself. The first is that I enjoy writing. I really enjoy writing. When I get in the flow and the words just seem to come pouring out of my fingers. It is an incredibly rewarding feeling. Last year I wrote the first draft of a book in three months because I enjoyed doing it and didn’t want to stop writing each day.

Since then, I haven’t done much with it because the second thing I’ve learned is that I do not enjoy reading what I’ve written; I hate it.

As I’ve been slowly doing a first rough pass through the book to polish up the roughest parts of it I have more than once almost thrown in the towel and thrown the whole thing away. I read it, and it’s not anything like what I want to have written. My vocabulary feels too limited, my sentence structures are childish, and my brilliant insights are incredibly shallow. I feel like I need to rewrite the whole thing from scratch.

It’s scary to put things out there into the world. When I write I often feel as if I’m having a conversation with my imagined readers, I can almost picture them. It’s calming and makes the whole experience feel wonderfully relational. But as I prepare to actually publish something that same imaginary scenario becomes frightening, even paralyzing. When I’m writing I can adjust my words, restructure my sentences and control what I’m saying. And I control my imaginary readers in the same way, they’re all happy with it because I’m enjoying the writing process. But once I push the text out to the world it is fixed. I cannot change it anymore and the people who read it will be actual humans with their own opinions, not figments of my imagination who are receptive to my ideas and blind to my oversights.

I put care into what I’m writing and vulnerability is hard. It’s scary to let other people read and judge my work, knowing that they may not like it. Often I’ll get partway through typing something and that fear sets in and kills the creativity. The words languish in the text editor.

Am I a fraud; am I putting my naïveté on full display? When I fire up my text editor to continue working on a draft I look back on the words I’ve written, and they feel so juvenile, so poorly constructed and fragmented.

In Episode 27 of Baronfig’s Eureka Podcast Joey Cofone talks about feelings of anxiety surrounding creativity as he has been writing a book.

There’s a ton of fear, which I write about in the book. Creativity has a ton of fear involved, and you never get rid of it. But you just acknowledge it and still work anyway.

Joey Cofone

That really struck me because I really look up to what Joey has been able to do, all he’s been able to build and create at Baronfig. To hear that he knows that fear as well gave me so much encouragement.

Perhaps these feelings are part of the process.

Perhaps this anxiety is an aspect of creating that I need to learn to accept and even embrace.

Perhaps I simply need to take a deep breath and click “Publish.”