I write a lot.
I write every day. I write on here, for a couple of people who think it’s apparently wise to pay me to do so, and also I write short stories and novel-ish things, which is something I don’t talk about a lot.
As with most things, I start writing novels and stories with little information and a lot of the “eh, just fuckin’ do it,” attitude. I start with 3 things in mind: a rough idea of the main character, the rough idea of the ending, and a scene I really want to see.
The best part about writing with this little information is that the character and the story have the room and space to develop totally on their own, seemingly independent of my input. By the end, there’s this whole person on the page, with hopes and dreams and desires and jokes that it feels like I didn’t come up with. They develop on their own and no amount of shoehorning on my part makes them that way. It only makes them disingenuous.
You know, sort of like people.
The hardest thing for me to accept is the willingness people have to let someone or something define who they are entirely. It’s different for everyone, but I see it so much. People consider themselves defined solely by their political affiliation, religion, spouse, child, job, parents, friends. Whether it’s good or most likely bad, allowing something outside of who you are to define you solely is bad. It’s bad.
There’s nothing wrong with making these things a part of your identity, for sure. My husband and our life is part of my identity, but he alone and our marriage do not define me totally. Nor does my family, or my friends.
That wasn’t always the case though.
There’s a lot of pressure in our society to fit in to the molds that are given to us by others. Be a good girl, be sensitive and sweet, be strong, don’t cry, don’t talk back, don’t believe this or that, don’t ask, don’t tell, be yourself only in so much as it fits what we deem acceptable. The ‘we’ part is ever changing.
In school, I floated between being a cheerleader and a skater and a country girl and a drama kid and a ton of other things, but it was clear to me that only one of those at a time was really acceptable. There were groups you either did or did not belong to, and to float between them was not okay.
In floating around and being shoved around, I learned to play the ‘cool girl’ pretty well. I played at being above cheerleading, though I really loved it. I played at being above drama and theatre, though I loved it. I was country because it was expected of me, but it wasn’t me. I was skater because they were fringe and so was I, and they, at least, didn’t give a fuck who I was because it’s not very punk rock to judge.
Must Read: The psyche of Hollywood Cool Girls
I learned to play this person over everything in my life. I never loved anything lest I be judged for it, was everyone’s friend, every boy’s girl, the right person for everything right then and there.
And it all collapsed in on itself because that’s not an identity. That’s a fucking moving box–something for everyone, something everyone can use, no opinions, no loves, no ideas, just a hollow container to be filled by anyone at anytime. Just like that box, eventually it all falls apart.
I had to learn to have opinions. To learn that I’m not the right person for everyone, whether romantically, for friendship, and jobs. I had to learn to say what I loved and own it without fear. I had to learn to make decisions based on who I wanted to be and who I knew myself to be deep down.
At first, it was very hard, because I couldn’t handle not being liked by someone else. I couldn’t handle being angry with someone, or having an unpopular opinion. I didn’t want to be seen as a loudmouth, or as someone who was too opinionated.
Over time it got easier and easier and live got better and better. Experiences became deeper, life was more vibrant. I learned to trust people, to make real friends, to argue without losing everything, to state how I felt without fear.
Over time, I became me. I’m not for everyone, but I also don’t want to be.
Don’t let someone paint over your art and tell you it’s better this way, with their input. Before you know it, there will be no glimmer of the true beauty and art underneath all that other paint, until you’re just a mishmash of input and no real structure. Your art is beautiful. Display it fearlessly.