Yesterday the editor sent me the link to the magazine, albeit in layout and draft, the one containing the column I’m writing.
I’m not sure why she sent it to me. Perhaps she sensed my unease. I fretted about what to say about me, aka the blurb. I didn’t want to say too much, didn’t want to say too little and wanted it to be interesting as well as evidence of my credential to have this column and be in this magazine. So I fretted about it a lot, holding off on sending it in, waiting until the moment of deadline to submit it.
Let it be known that I actually do not like writing about me. Writing to tell people about me is an entirely different thing than writing about life through a first person POV.
When she asked for a picture of me to include with the blurb, I fretted again. I thought I’d ask my photographer friend to take some great stylized shots, but that seemed too contrived. In the end, I followed myself around with a digital camera and took some pictures of me being spontaneous and looking for all the world a writer of the things I write, and a knower of the things I know, and a learner of the things I am learning.
I finally got a shot that was viable and sent off a photo with an explanation as to why I chose the one I sent in, because it is not like a typical columnist photo and might have needed an explanation. Let’s just say I was taking some creative license. I get to do that.
Editor’s response? “I like it!”
I didn’t think too much about it after that. I assumed the result would be similar to the last time I had a column in a local newspaper. Little picture, little blurb. At the time, it felt a little cool and a little weird. I wrote that column for a year, got bored, and switched to write a column in a trade newspaper which also had a little picture, a little blurb. I figured it would be like that; just a little cool and just a little weird.
I clicked the link the editor sent and up came the page. Funny how some things don’t change with time; how some things grow and how some things appear by dark magic out of the blue.
A little cool? Check. A little weird? Weirder, actually. It’s a bigger picture. And unnerving. Not like the last time at all. A sudden wash of big uncertainty.
Do I REALLY want to do this? Too late to back out: I have a contract.
So other questions crowd in: why am I doing this writing thing, exactly? Why am I suddenly scared of this place I want to be?
The place I am scared of? Getting stuck with that part of me that’s scared in the place that’s scary. And so, because I know it is just a part and not the whole of me, I do many things that scare me to get me out of that place. Sort of like psychological homeopathy.
Sometimes I do them once and once only to prove to myself I can do it, that I can live through a thing I am afraid of, to show the part of me that is afraid that my fear will not eviscerate me, will not destroy me in some way.
Other times I do the things I am scared of over and over again. It’s not like the scared feeling goes away. I just do it anyway. Every time I sit to write I am scared that I won’t be able to, that I won’t be able to find the words that I’ll freeze, choke, draw blanks, write crap.
That place, the place of self-judgment and self-consciousness is unlikely to ever go away. But facing the fear, being scared and doing it anyway is the only thing that makes sense because I want, feel compelled to do, this thing of writing. Even when I think I don’t want to and will never do it again. That’s just scared talking.