Every once in awhile I get a comment from a friend, online or in the physical world, who tells me she would love to blog as I do, but she is not a good enough writer.
Not good enough.
My first thought is this declaration of incompetence means something like, 'The words on the screen do not feel as magical as the images and emotions in my head." At least, when I am not good enough it is what I suppose. Writing, as we do, about our children, homes, and passions, we must get it right. It is painful to be misunderstood.
Digging a bit deeper into why we feel our personal compositions do not measure up, there seems to be a cultural idea that if we are meant to do something, it will be easy and uncomplicated to us. Natural, you know? At least after the initial neophyte period. But writing is often uncomfortable. Maybe exciting and fun and interesting, but also troublesome. Yet, whatever we write about seems pale in comparison with the vibrant inner world that motivated us to write in the first place. Searching for words that do not exist and getting bogged down in grammatical details, rather than releasing words run with our imaginations, free and wild, makes us feel like impostors.
It's difficult, in our busy lives, to make time for writing when it seems like we are fail to achieve even the lowest of expectations: to clearly communicate a message. Some days, when I sit down to write a tutorial or tell you all about a craft Smootch has done, I feel like I'm doing the writer's equivalent of a barely speaking toddler's grunts and multi-vowel chants in an effort to make someone understand me. 'Ain owww, 'ain owww, 'ain owww... Repeating myself. Over and over again. For this trouble, I am neglecting my children?
On top of communication difficulties, blogging, as a form of writing, presents unique complications. Blogging demands frequency, consistency, and also novelty. Most challenging, blogging is dangerously public. A post is usually another word for 'rough draft' because there is no time for polish. A rough draft out there for thousands of strangers to read and then comment on. Now, I can't complain too much here because my readers are some of the smartest and most generous people in the world, who look beyond my often clumsy phrases to the message behind and respond to that. Perhaps you sense my vulnerability and want to protect my shaky self esteem. For this, I am eternally thankful.
Still, after over four hundred posts, if I always get stage fright as my cursor hovers over the 'publish post' button - do I really want to do this? Is it good enough? - there must be something more powerful yet than my ambivalence that pushs me to do this. What else is going on? Why, when writing is so nerve racking and steals my time and attention away from the very things I write about, why do I still do it?
I suspect the answer is the same as why women who think they write badly, still feel driven to. I know, from my own experience, the only difference between those women who say they want-to-blog-but-can-not-write and women who actually do blog is only a couple of evenings when the children have gone to sleep mercifully on time and the housework doesn't seem quite urgent enough yet. A bit of time and space to oneself, a reminding of our selves as creative people and not a conglomeration of social roles. Because the drive to say what we need to say is stronger than our self doubt.
Not only is the compulsion to share our personal realities and experiences instinctual to humanity, we are a record keeping species after all, but we know intellectually it's actual duty to share with others the amazing things that we do. We need to share the cure to what ails us. To share when we have a solution. We need to let others know about the extraordinary people we live with.
We reach out to not only say, 'I am here,' but also, 'I know stuff too!' We are a community of women and our sharing, our writing, helps us all to survive and grow.
But, before I say any of this to a woman, who tells me she would like to blog as I do, I stop and ask, "Why is she saying this to me?" Has she read my blog? Does she ever listen to me talk? Surely she knows that I take it as my personal mission to get people to do for themselves. What other reason could she have to actually tell a DIY activist that she wants to do something but doesn't feel she can, than to hear, "Yes, you can."
I'm pretty sure she's aware of predilection for telling people what to do. Which means my job isn't to ponder the myriad of ways in which women silence or liberate their voices, but to just do what I do best. Introduce her to a easy to use blogging platform, to promise to keep her kids busy for awhile so that she has a few moments to sort out her thoughts, to remind her of all the unique and interesting things she does that she has a responsibility to contribute to our cultural discussions and knowledge. To say, it's tough and scary and exposing and so very worth it.
Because she's brilliant.
So, lady, put yourself out there and write something, damnit. The world need to hear what you have to say.