Two years ago when I decided that I would like to start a writing Instagram page, I searched through all of my favourite Pinterest photos that inspired me to write, created the profile and then spent well over an hour blocking every single person I know.
It was only when I felt comfortable that no one I knew would see the page that I posted my first post. (One of my porridge and coffee… have I changed? No.) I’ve even gone and filled in the cracks more recently too, making sure that I am still ‘protected’ from being ‘found out’ from those that I know.
At the start, I didn’t think about why I did this, I just knew that I wasn’t going to create my account unless I did. But over the last year I have found myself asking why?
I don’t really talk to people I know about my writing. My family and partner know that I write, and slowly over the years I’ve let those that are close to me know what my book is about. I’ve even let them read a bit. But I still hold my writing very close to my chest. I am asked by so many wonderful writers what my book is about, the kindest most encouraging people ask where they can read my work, and it makes my heart glow but I also don’t feel ready to share.
So why? Why this intense need to hide? Why don’t I want to talk about writing? Why don’t I want to be known as an author? Why am I reacting as though I am ashamed of writing a book?
I think there are a lot of answers as to why creative people feel shame about their art. But the first one that comes to mind is this little gem:
Who the fuck am I to think that I could write a book?
Who am I to start an Instagram about writing ? I mean … I’m not even published. This is arrogant, I am ignorant, how awkward. I imagine some of my peers reading my work, or looking at my Instagram and thinking these things. I’m sure some of you can understand these kind off self deprecating questions.
But it isn’t easy to get rid of that residing feeling of shame, embarrassment and shyness. Writing stories reveals a part of ourselves, it might reveal a dark side of yourself, a sexual side of yourself, a desperately unhappy part of yourself, a free as a bird part of you.For my book right now, it reveals the child within me. For my next project it reveals a part of my past and sexuality.
It is no wonder we feel vulnerable when we let people read out work, critique our work. Because no matter how many times we are told that ‘it’s not personal’ when we get negative feedback, it is mother fucking personal and it hurts. This isn’t math homework that is being marked, this is a part of ourselves being looked at, read, and critiqued. I think it is normal to feel vulnerable, but where is the line between hoarding our stories, (or much worse, stopping creating art all together) and allowing others to enjoy our creations and support the creator?
I think something I am learning is this:
We are all worthy of creating art.
We are all worthy of telling our stories and being true to our creative self.
You, (Hi! You, yes you!) have everything you need to write your story. You are allowed to write. You allowed to be you. It is not embarrassing or shameful to tell stories. It’s innately human and has been done for millennia. You are worthy of being part of that tradition.
So, back to the question at hand: who the fuck are we to think we can write a book?
We’re writers. Born writers. Born with a story within us. It is our RIGHT to write. So fuck that question.
But even if somehow we manage to convince ourselves that we are worthy of writing. That it is not shameful to create art, I think it is still okay to feel vulnerable. If we choose to share our work, or even if we just choose to tell people that we write, we are giving them a little part of us. No one has the right to make you feel ashamed for creating art but we still need to protect ourselves in this world, because people can be arseholes and creativity is not always valued in this world.
So although I am slowly learning to talk to others about my book, I’m not going to give it out in droves so that my story (and my soul) can be picked apart and spat out again. And although eventually I will be sending out my manuscripts to readers and then publishers, I am always going to remember that not everyones feedback is right. (NB. This sentence is revolutionary to me. That might make me sound weak charactered, but I used to / still sometimes do take any criticism of my work as gospel, it isn’t. It might be helpful but it might also be wrong. I’m learning to keep this in mind).
I’m probably not going to go through my IG and unblock everyone, but the thought of people I know realising that I have big creative dreams doesn’t make me want to die in a hole anymore. And I see that as progress. Baby steps… Baby steps.
Love to you ALL.