I’m Scared to WriteBy Megan Tady
August 04, 2010
I’m a writer, and I’m scared to write. I’m gun shy. I’m weak in the ankles. I’m on the diving board, and I can certainly dive, but the water down there — well, there might be something down there. Something I’m afraid to discover.
See, I write for a living, but it’s never really my words. It’s re-words. Every day, I try to find another way to re-work my employer’s mission statement, fine tuning the language in order to grab the person who wasn’t listening the last time. Before this, a journalist, my own words popping up just long enough to momentarily glance around at the big wide world before burrowing underneath my subject’s quote.
And in the in-between times, I write for myself. Snippets, poems, a sentence that could spark a book, if not a revolution. So I think. So I think, be a writer, really own it. I’ve come this far.
But when I received Brad Listi’s email about becoming a TNB contributor, I freaked out. I couldn’t even open the email for a day, and when I did, his instructions were in bold and everything was official and important. Like I was just drafted, or sent a visa acceptance from a foreign embassy. We ask that you post, bare minimum, once per month, he said. I gulped. Which is hard to do since I don’t have any salivary glands. Wow, that’s not even true. I’m just making stuff up because I need to write one post this month and I don’t know what to write about and I’m…
scared to write.
On the website, everyone just seems so witty and creative and more plugged into the indie literary scene than the indie literary scene itself. I can’t even remember what it was I wanted to write about when I first approached TNB with my spiffy bio. Now, faced with the opportunity to let my words run wild, I’d like another mission statement, please. I can make it look all sparkly and new and sell your story to the next person who wasn’t even planning to buy anything today. Just browsin’, thanks.
If only I hadn’t already published that piece about my colonic experience back in 2008. I could re-purpose it, but there I am, re-wording again. Re-wording my own words. But that could be seen as meta, and meta’s very “in,” I think. Potentially genius.
Maybe I need to go to a cabin faraway from home and write for 24 hours straight. Yeah, a cabin, with no running water, and I’ll sit in a wooden chair with a back so straight it’ll change the natural curvature of my spine overnight. And I’ll look at nature and “reflect back.” And the humping animals in the woods will remind me of lost love and I’ll write something forlorn and tinged with despair, but with a hopefulness at the end, like a new dawn. The dawn I’ll see every morning when I wake up with it. Oh, and I’ll have to drink something strong that makes my muscles ache, and my forhead slip from my palm to nearly hit the keyboard of my computer. Scratch that. Typewriter. Ice cubes that clink in a glass. Where will I get the ice cubes? Don’t think about that.
Also, how can I drink if I don’t have any salivary glands?
Oh, I’ve got something. I’ve got something; I’ve got something. And I didn’t write this at the fake cabin. I thought of it just now. Inappropriate Facebook statuses! Like, here’s one: “Megan Tady learned that role playing ‘getting a pap smear’ with a partner isn’t actually hot. Turns out the word ‘swab’ is a real mood killer.” But then I Googled “inappropriate Facebook statuses” and it turns out everybody’s doing them. There are even entire websites devoted to this. Probably frat brothers. So I’ll write about something else…
Like how about words that have probably never been uttered together in the same sentence? The other night while my boyfriend and I were cuddling, I said, “I see Chelsea Clinton dragging a port-a-potty into the woods.” And he said, “Oh my God, those words have probably never been said on this planet before.” We had been talking about Chelsea Clinton’s outlandish wedding and the port-a-potties that cost $15 grand. And then we do the cutest thing ever that any couple has probably ever done, oh you would love it, this little bedtime ritual, where we stare off into the distance and say that we see something random dragging something else random into the woods. Like a tumbleweed dragging a pencil. It’s sort of an inside joke and you sorta have to be there. Also, my boyfriend probably wouldn’t want me to share this because it’s sacred.
How did the Obama administration go from bravely shunning Fox News to presenting them with the front-row seat in the White House press room? Oooh, throwing in some politics.
But I’m beating around the bush. I’m turning on a dime. I’m using every cliche in the book to get me out of writing. Because, sigh, writing your own stuff really is scary. I have high expectations for myself. I want to write a post so grand that the comments in the comment section overflow and the webmaster has to call me and beg me to stop writing because the server simply can’t take the traffic. I want to write a post so heavy in analysis of modern day affairs that pundits instantly quit their jobs. I want to write a post that heaves up buried traumas so eloquently that even people who never owned dogs – in fact, hate pets in general – cry along with me. Oh, I want to write a post.
But I’ll start with this one. I’ll start by saying this is scary, yet I’m still going to try. It’s time I used my own voice, coaxed it out from hiding, let it dance a little.
I guess what I’m saying is, I’m new here, so go easy.
Sometimes you really have to put everyone and everything out of your head in order to write successfully. It’s no easy feat. You can do it, Tady! OWN IT.
Thanks Claire! Onward!
I feel you.
“I want to write a post so grand that the comments in the comment section overflow and the webmaster has to call me and beg me to stop writing because the server simply can’t take the traffic.”
Welcome aboard, Megan! You fit in perfectly. Enjoy the warm water, don’t forget your suntan, and if you catch Chelsea Clinton dragging a port-o-potty into the woods, do snap a picture for us, willya?
I agree with Joe. You fit in perfectly! I think the fact that you put a post about struggling to write in the “humor” section is a very good sign. I think you’ll be a-okay. Welcome!
“I gulped. Which is hard to do since I don’t have any salivary glands. Wow, that’s not even true.”
ha ha ha – perfect for the humor section. Very funny.
I just love the word spiffy.
“I have high expectations for myself. I want to write a post so grand that the comments in the comment section overflow and the webmaster has to call me and beg me to stop writing because the server simply can’t take the traffic. I want to write a post so heavy in analysis of modern day affairs that pundits instantly quit their jobs. I want to write a post that heaves up buried traumas so eloquently that even people who never owned dogs – in fact, hate pets in general – cry along with me. Oh, I want to write a post.”
I love this! Those high expectations can be an albatross. I don’t think you are alone in thatl in fact, I think you’re right at home. Welcome! I look forward to reading more.
This first post about writing a first post is really clever. So clever, in fact, that I’m sure your boyfriend will happily forgive your indiscretion of sharing your secret ritual (which is also really great.)
Thanks for the welcome wishes everyone!
All I have to say is you’ve now written the post about writing a post, which means you now will be forced to write a post about a tangible topic, unless of course you choose to write a post about having written this post as your first post, which would be quite meta, and potentially genius.
Coxy, great points, all. I have many observations that I’d like to deliver on this very topic. I just need to organize my thoughts and find a suitable manner to deliver them for Megan and her readers.
Perhaps a full post? An intellectually lazy work of solipsistic, metatastic genius that pokes fun at anyone who attempts to have fun?
I scrambled to the top of the precipice where Nick was waiting.
“That was fun,” I said.
“You bet it was,” said Nick. “Let’s climb higher.”
“No,” I said. “I think we should be heading back now.”
“We have time,” Nick insisted.
I said we didn’t, and Nick said we did. We argued back and forth like that for about 20 minutes, then finally decided to head back.
I didn’t say it was an interesting story.
~Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handy
richard, what about if you write a post for me about writing a post about my post and then we can be geniuses together?
“I used my own voice, coaxed it out from hiding, let it dance a little.
We’ll be right here, dancing with you, my dear!
I second everyone else’s certainty that you will be just fine. But who pretends not to have salivary glands? Let’s talk about tha shall we? What does that really say about you, Megan? Something deep and psychological… or simply that it is impossible to tease you with delicious foods?
Ice cream would be especially disappointing without salivary glands. Taunting you with ice cream would make that skit from Delirious even funnier.
Welcome aboard TNB, Megan. Speaking of porta-potties, you may be interested in “I Tried to be a Toilet Blogger” by Daniel Roberts: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/droberts/2010/01/i-tried-to-be-a-toilet-blogger/
I completely understand where you are coming from. All my life I have wanted to be a published author (still do!) With all the wrong turns I’ve taken after college, trying to follow the corporate america lifestyle that definitely isn’t working out for me, I’m trying to get back into creative writing, writing for fun, writing the 8594839204595 ideas I have jotted down in my journal but I’m scared. Scared of what, I’m not sure. Maybe scared that I’ve lost my talent/skills? Scared that maybe I won’t make it to the NY Times best seller list. Anyway, I’m with you. This was an awesome post. You’ve got a fan!
Thank you Susan! I hope to read something of yours sometime soon.
“If only I hadn’t already published that piece about my colonic experience”
You know, Hemingway got his start the exact same way.
It’s OK. You can feed the animals here. It’s only scary until you’ve taken the first few steps, and then you’ll be running in no time.
But fear! What a motherfucker. I hate that guy.
Welcome to TNB, Megan. Pleased to have you with us.
Simon, you’re outing me. I stole that line from Hemingway.
Be scared, Megan; be very very scared.
Have you read Matthew’s piece on the Great White Shark?
Ronlyn’s on the great noxious spill?
Kick our arses, my dear, whether in jest or any of the rest.
We rock—-and we welcome you!
You do rock! And I’m so happy to be here. I haven’t read those other articles yet mostly because I only read my own stuff, but I will!
Minimum of one post a month? Is that it these days?
Sheesh. Brad’s really relaxed the entry requirement.
Why, back in my day not only was there that $250 “initiation fee,” but if the average number of comments on your first two pieces didn’t top 30, he hit you with a $100 “server” service fee, and one a month went up to two a month, and minimum average comments went to 40.
And if you didn’t make that . . . well, it’s best not talked about.
Here’s a hint. Make sure you respond to every comment. That doubles your count. And try very hard to include a question in your comment, which means you’ll get an answer, and so on. Very important.
I’m sure you’ll like it here. I’m sure we’ll like you here.
I’d better get to work on my August piece.
Hey Don, someone gave me some good advice to reply to everyone’s comments… oh, it was you! Thanks!
As a formerly constantly and now just occasionally very scared to write person, you know what I noticed? Being scared and being excited are incredibly similar. If you can trick yourself, distract yourself for even a second, when you think you’re feeling scared into thinking you’re actually looking forward you can leap over to where you want to be.
I struggle with the perfection and the wanting to be stellar from the get go, too. But I’ve finally gotten it through my head that writing is messy. Playful. Fuck around then clean it up.
You know you want to reveal your brain to us. 😉
Megan — another tip — you can login to your account and edit or delete comments, if you want to.
There’s no reason to keep comments that have nothing to do with your posting.
Aha! Now I understand. You were writing as the guy whose gross comment Megan must have deleted. Your “filthy joke” remark gave you away.
Wait, wait….this isn’t just Smithson pulling a Tao Lin and creating a new online persona to post under?
CRAP. I thought I was on to something here.
Don’t worry, Megan, they’re very gentle here. I was able to walk fully upright less than two days after I posted my first essay, and all the chafing healed up in less than a week.
(And Judy is right; you should TOTALLY read my Great White shark essay. Actually, you should probably just go ahead and read my whole archive.)
I wish there was a thumbs up button. Sometimes I just like to show my appreciation for a fun read, but have nothing specific to say. So thumbs up!
I guess I could tell a filthy joke instead. 😉