Excuses, Pain, Moving On

Day 5: 8,730 of 50,000 words

I’m sorry I have been scarce this week. For my absence I have two excuses: one valid, and one that’s not.

The first excuse is that I managed to burn my hand rather badly. The second is that blogging is kind of scary right now.

I’ll explain:

Starting where it’s easy, I burned myself a week ago. By accidentally (who does it on purpose?) pouring scalding coffee on the back of my hand. It blistered almost instantly – a line of white raised skin half and inch wide from the knuckle of my left thumb across the webbing of my hand and up to the knuckle of my first finger (this is the point when you should all be grateful I don’t have a working camera currently). As you can imagine, this has been painful, and greatly inhibits my stamina for anything involving the use of my hands – especially typing.

If you’ve ever been burned before, you know that there comes a time when the protective covering of the old dead skin becomes a hinderance; it acts like a natural bandage at first while the skin beneath the scald regrows and repairs, but at a certain point you’ve got to scrub off that old skin to let the new tissue feel the open air and grow and heal properly. This part of the healing process happened yesterday for me, leaving me with a long line of pink, shiny new skin. It hurts.

Today, I’ve been sitting for hours trying to figure out why I’ve managed to write fiction despite the pain, but then freeze when I try to blog. I looked down at this new tender skin, stinging and burning and totally new to the world and I thought: that’s what I feel like. Like the old dead covering of who I thought I was is gone, and here I am – tender, nerves growing and feeling things in new ways. I feel so naked to the world.

This process of writing so much, of living around the thing I’ve wanted to do for most of my life, of blogging about it and connecting with such wonderful people, has changed me. I’m feeling stripped down to bare skin, and I don’t know what to write when I come to this page. I’m myself – who is that? What do I have to say? Why would anyone care?

Ah yes, I have a demon: Doubt. And it’s asking that question that cuts to the heart of every artistic pursuit: can I be acceptable as the raw naked self that lurks beneath?

I know how to solve this for myself. I set a goal, I live up to it. Goals and challenges are my way of cutting through the fear. That’s how I write a novel each month, even if I have to start over or write 10,000 words in a day. It’s how I got through that damned Dirty Dash. So I have a new goal to cut through the pain of accepting myself: write more blog posts – scare out all those demons so I can fight them. I’ll start with 4 posts each week.

My martial arts teacher defines a goal as an enemy to be conquered.

What enemies will you conquer this week?

Here are some other people talking about fear and being yourself. Please go read and appreciate.

It’s like being a rowdy child, or a child who doesn’t want to dress off the racks at Abercrombie, or the boy who prefers ballet to baseball. Sometimes we dare to stand out, but often times we wind up following the parade everyone else follows.  Hope Clark: Being Yourself Isn’t Easy

It’s scary to be yourself.

To be that raw and honest and vulnerable. That’s why most choose to hide.

Not me. Not any longer. Here is my pledge:

Jeff Goins: The One Fear That Will Destroy Your Art

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8 thoughts on “Excuses, Pain, Moving On

  1. Ouch. Hope it heals fast!

    Setting goals to stay motivated or overcome fear is a great strategy.

    Hopefully the Blogging mojo will return as good as the writing one.

  2. Oh man, burns are the worst. I’m sorry.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with doubt and setting goals. I need to work on some goals myself.

  3. Fear of being naked is what keeps me writing part-fiction. It’s the easy way out, I know, but it’s also useful as shit. Watching the characters who are not quite people I know, and trying to understand them. Distancing, and turning the prism of art to refract them in a new way.

    The burn sucks, but less than the fear. I’m proud and impressed that you’ve identified your enemy, and are running at it with bared teeth. You are inspirational.

  4. Wow. I love that analogy.

    “I’m feeling stripped down to bare skin, and I don’t know what to write when I come to this page. I’m myself – who is that? What do I have to say? Why would anyone care?”

    It seems that most writers experience these anxieties, and it’s inspiring that there are so many who are able to conquer them.

    This was an inspiring read! You’ve got me thinking about goals to set for myself! 🙂

  5. Wow! A novel a month? I’m just starting my first one and am scared to death. You’ve inspired me and for that, I thank you.

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