A month or so back, I was looking through some of my old writing for possible submissions. Much of my writing is full of angst—what better way to explain how depression feels than to compare yourself to a lifeless body full of sand?—and gibberish—sometimes the brain just needs to take a dump—so I wasn’t entirely hopeful about finding gold, but maybe some fool’s gold or some copper? Why not. Could happen. Anyway, what I found instead was evidence of my own personal growth in a rather short amount of time.
Amongst the ennui and gobbledygook was a document titled “Why I’m not a writer.” It was written in December of 2020 and was very short. It ended with:
But perhaps the main problem with my writing is that I do NOT want anyone to read it.
For context, this was nearing the end of my corporate career. I was six months in to my nine-month editing program, and the urge to be creative was growing steadily. I had started tinkering around more with writing and was fantasizing about quitting my job and getting to edit projects by “real writers.” But I still wasn’t able to put myself in those shoes quite yet.
I was absolutely terrified of the idea of sharing my work. And while I didn’t know it at the time, this included any writing that I would eventually put on my website. (How 2020 Lauren didn’t think website content counted as “writing” goes beyond me.) The thought made my insides charge into overdrive as if preparing to implode. I would cling my fingers to the keyboard like a rock climber hanging off the sheer edge of a cliff, unwilling to let go of the words because clearly, there are huge, sharp rocks down there that I will be impaled on if anyone else reads my writing! So no thank you. Not for me. I’m not a writer.
That was only one year and nine months ago. In that time, I started Scribe & Sunshine, had many panic attacks, created The Ugly Podcast, began writing two books, insert more panic attacks, and finally started calling myself a writer. I won the first round of a writing competition in my category, I’ve submitted pieces to magazines (they were rejected, but damnit, I submitted them!), and I’m able to show my writing to other people even when it’s unfinished and full of errors. December 2020 Lauren would probably crumple up into a ball and never recover if she knew how far we’ve come.
This change didn’t come from one great leap of faith. I didn’t leave all my fears and doubts behind me. (Ooooh no, they came along and are still here. Here’s Doubt right now. Hi, Doubt. “Hi, yeah, I’m pretty sure no one actually likes what I do and everything this past year has been one major fluke.” Oooook Doubt, you can go away now, thank you for your thoughts. Phew, sorry about that. She’s exhausting. Anywaaayy…)
The point is, we don’t change overnight. I’ve been doing it one tiny step at a time, chipping away at my fear little by little. I even had to have my husband hold my hand and sometimes press “submit” for me in those early days. I’ve joined writing groups, professional groups, taken classes and workshops. This work is not for the faint of heart, and it cannot be done alone. But we are worth the work. And as Morgan Harper Nichols said in her affirmation this morning, “I am not who I used to be, and that is a beautiful thing.”