Finding joy and the essay 

I don’t know why (stress? fatigue? boredom?) but I have had zero desire to work on my other blog at all over the past few days. The news items are interesting but I have no angle, no earth-shattering opinions to share. I just have a blah sort of feeling. I am not engaged.

Some of this probably comes from my fear that I am not helping, that my work is not meaningful to anyone, and not reaching those for whom it might have meaning. I don’t know how to connect or how to grow my audience in ways that don’t cause panic. Perhaps I should just move through the panic, the fear of being rejected, but shoulds are not part of my chosen vocabulary. Just because others might have the strength and desire and wherewithal to push on and write the scary emails does not mean I must as well. I am probably not making sense here. My point is this: there is no rule saying I need to write everyday or thy I need to be interested in my work every day or even that I have to show up if I am not compelled. I am not under contract, I write for myself and a small scattered following of mostly my friends and family (and not even they are follow intently). When does one give up? 

Stories of writers are filled with beginning adversity. But I also know not everyone sees their dreams realized, and compromise is a part of life and even a part of growth. Where do I stand on the spectrum? I live in. Fear of being quixotic (and have, basically since I learned the word’s unfortunate defintion). When I was younger, my mom had a friend whose husband was an inventor in his garage. It was implied to me he was a nutter and wasted his life following his passions. At the same time, I have always been encouraged to follow my dreams. Are dreams, then, only worthwhile if they yield money and security? Yes,  was the answer at which I arrived. 

Unfortunately, writing was the only thing for which I showed a proclivity. And so writing is where I arrived. I was never great at fiction -the prospect of sharing my imagination is the surest way to induce my writer’s block. I ran to nonfiction as soon as I could. There are a different set of anxieties here (how to present fact without being boring chief among them) and yet I feel more safe. My thoughts and opinions are presented clearly, and with purpose. 

It is easy to lose my voice, however, among all the facts. I have a tendency to disappear, to the detriment of my writing. I feel that happening now. 

The best cure I have found for this loss of self is a personal essay, of which this is an attempt. I love reading personal essays, examining how other writers connect their lives to greater issues of humanity. Essays are filled with fascinating observation. I feel connected when I read essays, constantly wanting to cry out “me too!” when the author describes an uncomfortable situation, an inappropriate thought, confusion or embarrassment. I am overjoyed to know I am not alone in my weirdness. David Sedaris is particularly gifted on this front. 

The more I write about essays, the more I realize this is the direction I want to explore. Writing essays makes me breathless and delighted. It is my favorite form. I hereby give myself permission to indulge in essays. 

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