I've always been a child of words.
I was that kid, there, between the tipsy soprano and the Casanova tenor, between martinis and speciality cocktails named the frigid orgasm and the drunken bachelor - there, between late night French fries and choral music. I was that child, a product of divorce and young parents, a being of choirs and organ recitals, an illustration of growing up too fast.
I was the quiet voice which silenced my adult friends - which made them say of me, she has an old soul.
Sometimes, my words failed me.
I think it is probably common for us to have memories of what we should have said - we go back, in our minds, to a moment when we didn't say enough, or didn't say it right, or couldn't speak at all. I know I have epic logs of conversations I might have been able to turn my way, silly things like teacher conferences, teenage embarrassments, times when I should have said something better and more powerful. And even smaller incidents - I remember discreet moments of when I needed to pay a compliment, or say a thank you, and being shy and awkward I let those necessary niceties slip.
I have, also, an inventory of what I will say, what must be said, when certain opportunities arise. Don't we all have a few speeches or quick twists of rhetoric stored up, just in case, just for that final moment when we've had enough? In my imagination, I dream up scenarios of climactic moments when I let it all go and use my words to rend the world.
Most likely, were these doomsday predictions to come true, I would be just as tongue-tied as I was in fifth grade when my teacher told my parents I was bad. But I have the words saved, files on a hard drive of neuroticism, to make me strong. To give me confidence, to give me the ability to engage in social interactions with pleasantness and benign smiles.
Blogging is not that way.
I have not posted in a while, mostly because my sister spent last week with me and I didn't spend a lot of time on the Internet. But the other reason - yeah, the real reason - is that I find myself stymied by anxiety, by perfectionism, by that same feeling of being rendered mute by staring eyes and adult expectations.
What if I have nothing to say?
No, that's not quite it - what if what I have to say is essentially meaningless?
I've written about a lot of things here, from my most-read post on bipolar disorder to recipes to Dr. Who to football, and some posts have garnered reactions. Some posts have not. It never mattered to me, really, because I knew I was writing for myself, just doing a private thing in a semi-public way. What mattered most was the writing. And with that in mind, I was able to explore topics which had deep meaning for me, and sometimes, to invite readers to find their own meaning in what I wrote.
And then I found myself thinking about the gaze of onlookers. I started wondering what people would like to read, what might be pleasing to one reader or another. And my words failed me.
I keep on coming back to writing being an act of failing, and it's still true. This moment of failure is completely my own, and so like me - I've been rehearsing blog posts as I do those imaginary conversations, never letting anything grow, living in a sort of blandness without poetry or passion. I think I am still the little kid at the Mt. Vernon Stable after evensong, full of spit and mostly too shy, too hopeful, too quiet when my insides were loud.
What was I afraid of, then? What would have happened if I had fully embraced just being a child, making mistakes - saying childish things, making childish demands? Who would I have been if I had turned my internal wit into something other than one-liners and quips, fortresses of big words and too-grown-up topics?
What am I afraid of now?
I don't want to be a disappointment. I don't want to disappoint myself.
I want what I write to have meaning.
I want to be myself, from science fiction to mental illness to every day silliness.
And I think I can do that. But I need to let that little girl go, because I can't go back and change my memories. I can't defend myself from injuries done so long ago - spiteful teachers, angry gossip, specialty cocktails - and I can't sit and plan a future in which I let all of that stored up fear and ire explode, well-articulated, on cue.
I just need to keep writing. And whether or not you agree with me - and goodness, I hope you don't all the time - I'm going to try to give my writing the full intensity of my opinions and beliefs.
I may be stuck, sometimes - but I need to move on.
No one will give meaning to my words but me.