As I get closer to finishing my book I also get closer to the point where I would (or will) have to ultimately let other people read what I've written. That is the point of a book and probably the reason that a lot of people don't publish one. I bet for all of the things published there are more things not being shared with the world.
There seems to be a difference between the types of people who unabashedly share things and those who are equally as motivated to keep things to themselves. There are people that post hundreds of "selfies" and there are people who post one blurry and obscured portrait. That same apprehension and inhibition does not always correspond to everything that a person is capable of sharing. Someone may post a lot of pictures of themselves but secretly writes poems that no one else in the world even knows about. Someone else may post a lot of pictures that other people have taken but never post their own photography. Still others will selectively share only bits and pieces of themselves only to take them away, or to waver back between being sociable and reclusive. They share and they renege. The "Indian givers" - the people who give things and then take them back if they don't get their expected results. - That's me. I take down, probably, 80% of everything I post. I also only post probably, 5% of what I actually write and create.
There seems to be a part of ourselves that we keep closest to ourselves. Parts that we are most afraid of letting anyone else see. For a lot of people it is our true feelings. For others it is their deep dark secrets - and for many it is anything deeper than their surface layers - what can be seen.
When people say that this information ages's social media has only made us 'more lonely and detached from others' - they are being ridiculous. Being able to talk to almost anyone in an instant from around the world in 20 different mediums is not the reason people feel "detached" from others. That's like saying that if you gave someone a car who didn't have one that they would be less mobile.
I think that the sense of detachment and loneliness that people experience is something that they have always felt but has been exasperated, not by the lack of others but by the over abundance of others. Before the internet people were limited to interacting - and SEEING - only the people in their immediate lives. Today we can see and instantly interact with millions. This is the source of the detachment - it's a type of over stimulation and ultimately its a hyper fear of judgment. Of over exposure. What comes along with being able to see millions is that millions of others are able to see see us. To judge us, to ignore us, to pick us apart - to help us, and to show us what we do not like about ourselves and sometimes to make us feel superior and better about ourselves.
I always wonder why some people will leave the meanest and most terrible comments on things that are arguably awesome and then on other things that are in-arguably terrible they say nice and encouraging things? Sometimes there are pictures of people with perfect bodies and it's a great photograph of them - it's like - wow good for you, you look great! But people will pick them apart. Then there are other pictures that someone else posts that are not only not good quality pictures (photography) and the people in them are a mess and people will comment "Wow you are so hot! Cutest ever!" There is a lot of psychological phenomena that could be explored there, but I digress.
I purposely used "I digress" because it is an example of a unreasonable bias I have had. Whenever someone says or types "I digress" I roll my eyes and subtract points from them. I do the same with "lol" instead of 'haha" or "hehe" I think the only reason I do this is that someone I was mad at 12 years ago used "I digress" and ever since then anyone else who uses that phrase is automatically associated with that - even if subconsciously - and I become negatively biased. I've actively worked on not having these subjective biases and one way to do that is to start using or doing the things that you dissane. distane? Distane? Spell check says that is not a word but I thought it was..
- Anyways, sometimes people will do the same thing to people if they mis-spell a word or use the wrong their there - they are being petty but at the same time it depends on context. If someone is a writer and they make writing mistakes then it is different than someone who isn't a writer making the same mistakes. You could think of it like that or you could think of it like someone being a "driver" and getting into an accident. "I'm a driver, but i'm not a professional driver." People forget that accidents are just that - accidental. If they could avoid them they would.
Maybe this is a good place to get to the point. I have gotten to the point where I have to accept that I have a fear of failure and that I really do care what other people think. There, I said it.
If you haven't been following my blook/ (blog / book) I have been trying to write a book for the last 8 years. I always feel like I have to stress that it's "NON FICTION" because I think that it’s some how different than writing a “novel” about vampires or something. Not that there is something wrong with that and I would LOVE to be writing a fiction book. I don’t know how to write fiction but that just seems like it would be fun.
My book is not fun to write. It’s been like writing a paper for a class final for 8 years that doesn't have a due date. For someone who 97% of the time finishes everything the night before it’s due – this has not been an ideal situation for procrastination prevention.
Saying you've been working on a book for so long sounds crazy. If I were writing it as a hobby, on the side, and had this whole other professional or personal life it would be different. There are probably millions of people who are “writing a book” -on the side, in their spare time. That’s not crazy. What’s crazy is spending 8 years writing a single book as you main goal and focus. That’s not just crazy it’s insane to most. Why haven’t you finished yet? How do you support yourself? What is your book about?!
I have hated to talk about what it is I do (Or don't do) or have been doing with my life. “I’m writing a book” – is usually the prompt to a lot of different questions and you would think that I would be primed and ready to answer them. I haven’t been. I usually avoid it or just say that I “work on web sites.” Because no one really asks questions about that. If I say that I am writING a book then the next question is usually
“Yeah, but what do you do?”
“How do you support yourself?”
How is it that you make money writING? It’s a good question but the answer is both embarrassing and I feel that it automatically diminishes what I am doing and writing. “Oh my Mom is supporting me…”
That answer immediately takes it from “Oh, I’m curious and interested, wow you’re a writer? Almost author?” To – “ Ohhhhhhh, I get it. “You’re writing a book” *air quotes* and your 'Mom is supporting you.'” People assume that it really means or is code for “I’m unemployed and living at home.” Like it's a cover up or a conspiracy that we tell people.
I am one of those people that is afraid of putting their phone in their pocket if i'm in a store because I think people will think I'm stealing something. So whenever I have to say that my "Mom supports me" I say it in a guilty way that only goes to support that I am not really doing anything. Maybe that's because a lot of the time I'm really not. I'll get into the whole "writing is not brick laying" in another post but unfortunately writing a book is a lot more like, waiting to write a book, than something you do all day everyday. I sometimes go so far as to play the part of the person you are making me out to be. "I don't work, I am a house boy." In doing so I diminish myself and downplay what I am really doing. Sometimes that is easier and more convenient than trying to explain what it is I really do. You get to the point where you realize you don't have to explain or defend yourself or what you are doing if people have already made up their minds - I just placate. I placate a lot. You just have to watch out that you don't let someone's opinion of you influence you. Sometimes you can take placation too far and in playing the part people have casted you as - you forget who you are and see yourself through their eyes.
"The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them." - Emmerson
It’s a really big insecurity for me because I already know what people think and the conversation ends at that point. I've already been labeled and there are never any more questions after that. What also happens at this point is I get internally defensive and angry at the person who I perceive is dismissing what I’m doing. (Even if they aren't.) So in my head I go “whatever I don’t care what they think.” And I either ignore them or change the subject. Since I never get to the next part of the story, my story, and what my book is really about I have almost zero experience talking about it in “real life.” It’s kinda a conundrum that I feel that if I talk more about it that I would be “bragging” or that they wouldn't be able to understand. I feel that people think that living a "life of leisure" or that I don't have a traditional job means that it means that I don't have to do anything that I do not want to do. In a way that's correct but the part that I can never explain properly is everything that I have given up and sacrificed to do what i'm doing. From being homeless and car-less to being over 30k in debt and ruining my credit score. It may be 'nice' to be able to sleep in every morning and not have to work an 8-5, but I also do not get payed and haven't made a dollar in 8 years. I have to ask for money to go see a movie. Yeah, I get to sleep in, but I don't even leave the house. It seems like its a nice life until you live it day in and day out for over 5 years. It becomes less of a privilege and more of a prison.
This brings us back to the point, which I seem to be avoiding. My biggest fear with my book and what I’m currently doing with my life is that I’m either delusional/ diluted or that people will not be able to understand what I’m doing or what my book is about. That’s the problem in writing a Non-Fiction book - that it’s my job as the writer to present the contents in a way that the reader can understand. If I can't do that then I have failed.
I read a quote by Einstein years ago that has stuck with me:
That was the essence of my problem in writing this book and in my life. I honestly just didn't understand what it was I was writing about enough to explain it properly. So I would just think: “Whatever they just wouldn't’ understand anyways.” And cross my arms and go back to my room and pout like a child for the next few years. When it was really just that I didn't understand it enough myself.
Did I mention that I am an only child? Yeah, that extends to all areas of your life – including sharing your feelings and thoughts with others with anyone besides your parent
By not being able to share what my book is about I am left having to decide, independently, it’s validity and it’s ‘goodness” ? With that comes a whole raunchy level of subjectivity. That means that it becomes ‘good’ or “bad’ depending on my mood, on what I feel or don’t feel like doing that day – it’s up to me. One day I can say "This is horrible I suck!" as an excuse for not working. The next day I can say the exact opposite thing about the exact same thing I've written - and then use that as an excuse for not working.
In 8 years I've had plenty of time to obsessively analyze what it is that keeps me motivated and what scares me into submission, or from submitting what I've written for others to read. I've come to accept that no matter what that there will be people who tear it apart for no reason, for biased reasons, and that there will also be those who will tear into it and enjoy it for those same objective and subjective reasons. There will be those that don’t like it – or me, because I miss-spell a single word, use the wrong grammar, or even like I mentioned before – use a phrase that someone else they don’t like uses. Most of all, most people will just not care at all or read it, or think twice about it.
With all things considered, obsessively, it comes down to the old adage “just be yourself.” Which is what really freaking annoys me. You can’t escape it, you can’t avoid it, it all comes back to you. Or me. Or me and you.
Me – the writer.
You – the reader.
Hi! This connection is it. The whole point. It’s what I cannot escape or avoid and what I have been trying to for so many years. I can not write a book or anything without it being read. That seems pretty obvious though doesn't it? What isn't as obvious is the next step – thinking about someone else actually reading what it is you've written.
"Well yeah if you're writing something then obviously someone is going to read it." - Not true. There is a difference between writing something and someone else reading it. Unsent emails. etc.
I would challenge you to write a single paragraph that you knew your worst enemy would read. I would challenge you to write a single paragraph about yourself that you knew anyone and everyone could or would read. These things that can seem so simple become very very difficult when you are staring at a blank page. They become 10x’s more difficult when the time comes to press send.
Did I digress again?
I guess that’s my point. I haven’t been able to figure out why it is I digress from finishing. Every time I have gotten close to finishing I have come up with some reason to stop.
Fear of success – fear of failure – what is the difference? It doesn't matter why, it’s still just fear. Fear of judgment, fear of the unknown – fear of the known. No matter what you do, no matter how well you write, no matter how much evidence you have, no matter who you are opening yourself up to - to biased people, to honest people, to envious people, to ‘haters’, to lovers, to millions of people seeing you and ultimately for absolutely no one caring. To sending someone a letter that they won't even open.
What’s more scary: That that people will see you or that no one will? That people will love or hate it or ignore it?
There is a quote I like that says:
I know that I am afraid of success and that I am afraid of failure. I know that I've spent these past years telling myself and others that I’m afraid of people reading my book and that I wouldn't be able to handle 'being successful.' I know that by not letting people in, or posting what I've written I can imagine any reaction I want. I can fantasize and I can fear any response from anyone- but it's still just imaginary.
I also know that last night for the very first time that finally admitted to myself that more than anything I am afraid of failing. Of being disappointed and disappointing- again and again as I have been over and over. Of being ignored. That no one cares, that they won’t like me, that I’m crazy, that I've wasted 8 years of my life, that I don’t know what I’ll do instead if I give up.
I’m starting to realize that fear is fine as long as what you are fearing isn't the truth. Whatever that may be. Find the truth and go from there – it’s usually what you are most afraid of.