Thursday, July 21, 2011

Write What You Know

There are times, as a writer, when you will suddenly have an epiphany about yourself. This will be odd and startling if you are anything like me and maintain a certain level of distance. Sure, I connect with my characters and invest a lot in writing quality material (off of message boards and aside from emails that is). But I'm not one of those people who will likely ever write an advice book, or a tell-all, or a memoir. First of all, my life is probably not going to be all that interesting unless you find the ramblings of detail-obsessed, verging on neurotic...but then again, you are reading my blog. Let's move on, shall we?

I have issues writing about myself. I took a required class in college where it wasn't about writing a straightforward argument-based essay, or fiction, or really anything with a structure I understood. It asked for you to write in a rambling, structured way about yourself. Me? I don't want you to really know me. Unless I want you to. I'm certainly not going to pour all my confessions out in a random essay to be read by a professor and group-critiqued. That's what diaries and journals are for. Which, by the by, I am terrible at keeping.

Anyway, I was in the bath, as I usually am when my epiphanies and brilliant story ideas happen upon me, and suddenly I realized...I am a control freak. Emphasis on control. Emphasis on freak. Of course, I've realized this through my writing, as every good character has a little part of you in their identity. That's what helps you understand them and connect to their story. But I don't think I ever realized how much of my strengths, problems, and the core of how I function has to do with my need for control.

I am leader. I will take charge in social situations or for group projects. I tend to get along with most people and am good at charming them and leading a conversation. The things I excel at tend to me microcosm situations that I can control. An essay. My own little relentless argument. A painting, a sketch, a design. The chance to fully control the development and creation of an image and imbue it with life. Speaking of such, my stories. My articles. My life.

With these strengths come the weaknesses of being unable to give up control. You freak out when you are confronted with something or someone that feels too unknown, too uncontrollable. If the power seems to be taken out of your hands and you don't immediately excel, it is too easy to reject the class or person or situation because it challenges you in a way that is actually frightening. If I don't try, then perhaps I'll fail, but I'll be in control of my failure and I won't have to confront the truth about whether I would fail if I truly put all my effort into the attempt. Objectively, I know I'm ridiculous. But it's hard to be objective when you're so focused on control, consciously or not, that you become this bundle of nervous energy and potential, so sensitive and shaky that you're utterly paralyzed.

No comments:

Post a Comment