Since I’ve taken the plunge to write daily on Medium (so far an unblemished three month record) I’ve posted quite a few articles by my count.
And as I’m prone to do, I sometimes take a quick read of a few of my earlier articles. I like to note how far down the improvement road I’ve traveled.
I’ve got to tell ya folks I was taken aback at what I read.
No, the earlier stuff wasn’t terrible. I mean, at least I didn’t think they were toooooooo bad. But each of them was missing something. Each of them lacked a particular aspect which I now believe, doomed them to a non-curated, seldom read, dust bunny shelf life.
Each of the articles seemed flat, devoid of emotion and although they were paced reasonably well, I just couldn’t seem to get into them. And I was the one who wrote the damned things.
I didn’t really want to read my own stuff. How jacked up is that?
The shit I wrote trying to be funny wasn’t funny, it was cute. My passion wasn’t passionate, it was well, concerned. There were a couple of gleaming trinkets in each of the articles, one or two Easter eggs when I hit the mark, but for the most part my writing was, oh well.
So this morning, I got to thinking (dangerous for me I know) and it finally dawned on me what these stories, and many later pieces lacked.
Some of you may call it writer’s voice, but I’m very comfortable writing how I speak, and in the manner I think, so I don’t believe I’m having any trouble with my voice.
(Besides, these throat lozenges help quite a bit. Okay they’re candy, so what)
The point is I believe my writing style lacks emotional personality.
As I read some of my older work it seemed as if I was attempting to hold the reader at arm’s length, like I was desperate to maintain a safe distance. And I’m sitting here trying to figure out why.
First I started asking myself questions.
- Am I afraid to let anyone get too close and see inside this jacked up brain of mine?
- Am I afraid someone might see the true me, my real emotional personality and I’ll be ostracized and hated?
- Is it I’m terrified to be viewed as an unreliable, untrustworthy source of engaging and thought provoking pieces?
- Have I reached a stage in my writing career where I need to open the floodgates and let my passion, not my vitriol, spew out and I’m afraid to do that?
After a ton of soul searching I finally figured out the answer to all four questions is, yes.
I’ve been writing from the comfortably safe side of a two way mirror.
I’m frightened to death at the thought of emotionally connecting with each of you. And yet I still feel connected in some strange way if that makes any sense.
For the longest time I’ve been writing from the comfortably safe side of a two way mirror. The image you see when you read something I write is most times a reflection of you not me.
I’ve tried to cultivate your reads and claps by saying things I believe you want to read.
I’ve tried to provide reflective images of yourself and your writing styles in hopes you’ll like it. I’ve been the man behind the curtain doing everything possible to keep my heart in my chest, never on my sleeve.
Even those times when I showed my ass in anger, I never let anyone see how much I was hurting. I wrapped my pain inside symbolic, and sometimes cryptic, passages about a writer’s life and a writer’s woe.
I frequently shared articles about pain most of you were already suffering yourselves, but I never let it get too close, and like a latch key kid, I closed the door on my own pain and locked it away.
That’s probably why I’m not doing as well as I’d like.
I crawled out of my turtle shell and bared my emotional personality for all the world to critique.
Then I did something stupid, not stupid, yesterday. I posted an article on how I really felt about a certain topic very dear to me. Yesterday, for some reason (and I still don’t totally understand why) I crawled out of my turtle shell and bared my emotional personality for all the world to critique.
I spoke of what I was feeling inside, my fear of losing someone close to me and the ache of desperation I felt.
I wrote about love and how I felt about saying the words “I love you” and I wrote of the anguish I felt inside. I let my emotional personality take front and center stage.
Oh my God, the urge to delete the piece and write something else was fierce! I knew if I posted, I would shatter my two way mirror and expose my true feelings. After posting, there would never be a way to retreat into my protective shell.
I would never be able to turtle up again.
No longer could I pose as the all knowing, all seeing man behind the curtain. If I tried, people would call me out for being a fraud. I got to tell ya folks, I hesitated long and hard before I let it fly.
But let it fly I did.
It was one of the most terrifying and yet liberating experiences in my writing career. But I know one “real me” article isn’t going to cut it. I know from this point on I’ve got to speak with an authenticity derived from my true feelings, my emotional personality.
I know it’s what you guys expect from me, from yourself and from others with each piece — day in, day out — we write.
And so it begins.
But please bear with me. My emotional personality gets a little ‘verklempt’ from time to time.
Don’t worry. I’ll bring my own box of tissues.