I want to share more of myself, but to what end? I have my Facebook page to show my Facebook self–that picture perfect version of me. I don’t want to put on a “I’m the best I can be, why don’t you try to be more like me” face. I’m tired of seeing that face, it’s everywhere and it’s irritating and frankly, it’s often a lie. I want to share the truth, or at least my version of the truth, and that requires showing all of my faces: the face that thinks cedar trees look like standard poodles; the face that stares deeply into the mirror searching for new and better flaws; the face that stands on one foot to eat an entire meal in an effort shake things up; the face that likes to walk backwards down hills; and the face that sincerely wants to connect with the face that’s reading this.
Welcome to Hay Fever 2015. It came early this year and I’ve been complaining about it since it arrived, and the medicine I took to stop me from complaining only made me complain more. But I’m done, both the complaining and taking the medicine because I don’t want to go around wearing the “I have allergies, feel sorry for me” face.
The other part of my moodiness this week came from a suggestion that I rework an assignment I’d submitted because it was 800 words too long. This suggestion led to nine hours of revising. As I read through my initial submission, I was mortified and so I ended up completely changing the gist of the paper. Essentially, what I did was remove all the stuff that I found mortifying, which was all the personal stuff. I turned it from an essay about me falling in love with the Personal Essay genre into an essay about the Personal Essay genre. I then waited in fear for feedback. This afternoon, I finally received some:
I like this. It’s well-written … I think you’ve captured the complexity of the webs and strands that make up a good essay, which always goes deeper into the subject behind the subject. You project yourself as a highly intelligent and sensitive reader and writer, with an eye for fine detail and nuance. Which is, of course, what we look for in an essay writer. Hence, an essay on essays.
I was thrilled! And then he said:
I must confess I rather preferred the first paragraph of your first draft, the longer one, which was more personal, more of the “personal perspective.”
Well, what do you think of that?! He not only liked my paper, he liked the personal stuff too. I’ll leave out the comments on my bad grammar and just say that I appreciated all his criticisms because they were constructive.
That wasn’t the only feedback on my writing that I received today. A friend of mine wrote in response to my blog. She is a longtime friend, I’ve known her since college (for a loooong time). She is one my wisest friends, too, and definitely the most opinionated–a woman who say what she wants when she wants and you’d better listen. She is also caring and warmhearted and loves me to pieces. What I’m saying is I can count on her to tell me what I need to hear, not necessarily what I want to hear – I admire that in a person. And so when I read her reaction to my blog, I felt equally flattered and challenged.
I just started to read your blog and may I comment on how much you’re writing has improved. While I have more to read, I must commend you on how great of a job you’re doing. Now, and I say this with love…if you can pay as much attention to developing your own style instead of placing it on trying to be like the masters of yesteryear, you, my dear friend, will go far. You’re in there somewhere, just try and stick to a little more of you and a little less of them.
Actually, it was her comments that inspired me today to sit at my computer, unleash my voice and, well, give it that good ole college try.
Before going to bed last night I received a comment from another friend:
Kind of dull Tuesday report. Hope your allergies are ok.
Smirking, I agreed and sent an “lol” in response. And then I began to wonder why this friend of mine would bother to send me such a comment–especially this being his first comment, and especially especially because he is a creative-type, an artist, someone who understands fully what it feels like to put something out there, to walk arm-in-arm with intimidation and vulnerability: with the me, myself and the I. How could he, of all people, tell me it was “dull?”
Because it was.
It was impersonal and written as an excuse for not writing something more challenging, a cop-out. I’d been so moody the last couple of days (I think my weekend sugar binge didn’t help) to the point of scratching this whole blog idea altogether. It was all so discouraging until I heard from him, and then from her–the feedback, good or bad, motivated me to pick up the pen, and by picking up the pen I once again had that feeling of pure enjoyment, that feeling one gets from creating something, anything.
Maybe I’ll write something that inspires you to comment… or maybe it’ll inspire a smile or a memory, or maybe you’ll find fault–please tell me if you do, especially if it’s grammatical or concerns a failed attempt at using a “big word” (those are so embarrassing!)
Whatever the case, I just want you to know I’m so happy you’re reading this!!