There’s something about the blank page that always scares me a little. It’s different on a computer than it is in a notebook, with a pen. Like somehow this glowing window expects me to spill out deep insights, fully formed. But some part of me knows better. Some part of me remembers that writing isn’t about recording your most perfect thoughts, and therefore dependent on already having said thoughts in your brain. Some part of me remembers that writing and thinking are not so far from each other — the pen lets you spin out your thoughts so you can see what’s there. Beliefs you forgot you had, revelations you didn’t know you were capable of. And so often it yields gems you couldn’t have dreamt of if you’d tried.
And that magic, that game of chance, that’s what makes writing so scary. You have to let go. For this part of the process to work, you can’t be fully in control. And sometimes things come up that you don’t want to see, ranging from plain embarrassing to painfully self-revelatory. Face to face with my flaws, any notion of invincibility vanishes. Then I panic, before remembering some of my favorite words by Audre Lorde:
“I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”
So I keep writing. And even if most of the things that come out never reach anyone’s eyes but my own, I swear this act keeps me alive. Pen to paper, I feel so close to the pulse of human interconnectedness, so aware of forces so much bigger than me. Every once in a while, that loss of control no longer feels scary. It feels freeing.
Somebody asked me once what my greatest fear is. I think I probably answered “spiders.” (Which is not untrue...) But I know the real answer is that I’m afraid I will die never having spoken myself, afraid of giving the world proof of my imperfection. Afraid of what will happen when I open myself to the world, to judgment, to pain, to being taken advantage of. But we do not live to be bulletproof.
“Here,” I want to have said. “Here is me, changing and dynamic and often wrong.” But never silent, for silence is just another way to deny our transience.