I had started to write a much different post this week. It was about a lovely little word that seems so hard to find IRL but is so deliciously powerful when it does come out of hiding. It was shaping up to be such a lovely little piece with no real surprises. A nice, non-threatening way to pass the time. In short: BOR-ING.
Okay, to be fair it might be more accurate to say it was shaping up to be a “safe” post. No limbs to step out on, no risk of being vulnerable, no possible exposure to misunderstanding, not even the suggestion of raking a chance. And that ran contrary to every reason why I made the decision to leave the cave in the first place.
Erika Napoletano and I have never met, not even in the blogosphere. Oh, I’ve lurked around her website for a few months, trying to learn what makes her readers (including me) keep coming back for more. Erika is an entrepreneur as well as a writer and although we will probably never agree on a lot of things, I believe her. She writes from sometimes hard- won experience, and she doesn’t let herself squirm out from beneath her own microscope. She’s authentic. In addition to the well-honed business advice and more “technical” posts, she occasionally serves up a heaping plate of steaming, skewer-you-to-the-wall honesty smothered in “whoop-ass” that she aptly calls “The Bitch Slap.”
Now, I have to warn you that Erika is not for children, those who are easily offended, have weak constitutions or anyone who prefers their honesty served up with white truffle oil and champagne (as if the title didn’t give that away). Seriously. I’d rate her blog PG-16 1/2 for language but what she serves up is worth a few metric tons of cocoa (go ahead – check the spot price on cocoa. I’ll wait.)
Wednesday’s Bitch Slap (www.redheadwriting.com/the-bitch-slap-you-cant-what) was something I needed about two weeks ago. I won’t ruin it for you, but here’s a taste: “If I don’t, then it won’t get done. If I don’t do it, then who the hell is going to?” I winced, hissed and “ouched” my way through Erika’s rant and read it through a second time to see if there was anything I had missed (and wondering how on earth I missed anything?). About the third time through (have I mentioned that I have a slight masochistic leaning?) I was hit with a bitch slap of my own.
Can’t, don’t, won’t, shouldn’t and all their kin are usually indications that I am about to sabotage myself. Again. I think you probably understand what I mean, but let me explain, just in case I really am the only person who flirts with this kind of trouble.
Change is never easy on anyone. The person going through it (me) can encounter a lot of resistance from a lot of different sources. My family doesn’t necessarily understand the pull that a creative lifestyle has for me and because of that they don’t necessarily understand why I make some of the choices I do. Sometimes, they put obstacles in my way that keep me from working on my craft. It could be a dinner invitation or a favour they need from me or even something they know I’d like to do (ice-level seats to a hockey game?). Whatever it is, it’s a distraction, something that shifts my focus from where it needs to be. They have a lot to “lose” if I am able to take my place among the creative community. I won’t be as available to them, and the decisions I make (which they don’t understand now) will become even more unfathomable to them. I will change and probably in ways they aren’t prepared to accept or even like.
Sometimes, though, I can be the saboteur. Oh it starts out so bloody innocuous. “I can’t get this post out because my Internet connection crapped out on me again.”. “I shouldn’t skip the gym today but I am so worn out and I’ve got a lot to do before rehearsal tonight.”. “I won’t need to practice this piece; I can practically play it in my sleep.”
It all seems so innocent, even reasonable. Until the posts that were due on Tuesday start posting on Thursday, or Monday, or not at all. Until it’s concert week and the dress is a little snug. Until I stand in front of a microphone with absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to do.
Why do I do it? Why do I trip myself up? Fear. Uncertainty. Because the cave is comfortable and familiar and out here in the sunshine, I don’t know quite what I’m doing. I’m having to rely on instinct and intuition where the cave walls have always been very well defined and solid. Because at some level, I’m a little afraid of the person I might become if I do keep to this path. I don’t know who she is. Will I even like her? It’s an existential crisis, albeit a self-inflicted one, but it’s something I wrestle with a lot.
But here is something else I’ve decided: The self-loathing and stress, not to mention the expense, of sabotaging myself just isn’t worth it. I have spent far too much time in the cave already. Yes, I’m a little scared, but I don’t want to be there anymore.
So, taking a page out of Ms. Napoletano’s book – it’s time to put the big girl panties on. The world doesn’t need another wanna-be amateur blogger clogging up the Internet with a lot of self-serving crap, not even well-written, self-serving crap. What it does need, though, is people – particularly Creatives – who are committed to the path they’ve set their feet to and who will follow it with all the grace, integrity, authenticity and courage they have been blessed with.
When can’t, won’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t and any of their cousins show up in my journals, my conversations, my tweets, or even my head, I need to pay attention and make sure I’m not about to do something that’s going to push me off the path I’m called to.
I’m getting off my soapbox now. I have to confront well-intentioned saboteur and put in her place.