It is inevitable that every time I sit down to outline new goals, go over the results of old goals, go through my planner, schedule my life, talk to people I trust, meditate–basically anytime I try to move my life forward– I hit the same roadblock.
I am flat-out scared of other writers. Fiction? Scary. Poets? Yep. Scary. Non-Fiction? Quaking in my (combat) boots. It’s been a problem since I can remember but I never actually turned around to look it square in the eyes and figure out why I have this problem or how I am possibly going to fix it. I just keep avoiding it. I forget about it. I find another way.
My whole life I’ve wanted to write, of course without any specific goals other than “pen to paper on the reg”. I’ve swung around like a deflated balloon in a tree. Trapped, once buoyant, sad to see. I worked on lit mag in high school but come college the idea of being surrounded by my better-than-thou peers sent me into a panic. I didn’t submit. I didn’t apply. I didn’t do anything. When my favorite authors came through town, as they always did because it was Iowa City, I’d have my books signed and say “Hey” but nothing more. I can’t speak to anyone I admire. Ask my boyfriend about the time I met Aaron Sanchez.
In the city I am always on the lookout for writing meet-ups, readings, places to meet people like me. But I don’t ever go. The dates come and go. I don’t meet anyone new, I don’t ask how to move this whole thing along. I just put my head down and write. I just avoid the problem. I avoid writers. I avoid the people who are most like me.
They should be my people. I should want to surround myself with writers like me, who I enjoy, who I respect, who I can grow with. But they scare me. I am certain they are all more talented than I am. Certain that if I put myself out there, I’ll be rejected immediately. That I’ll never find the right ones, you know, the writing people made for me. I’m exactly like your friend who refuses to date– there’s no one out there worth meeting.
And I know it’s wrong and yet I still do it. Never meeting anyone new. Avoiding other writers. Pretending that isolating myself from my own community is okay.
It’s finally time I stop doing this to myself and set out and find my people. I don’t know where they are, these writers like me, but I intend to find them. One small event at a time. Maybe I’ll even speak to someone at these events. Who knows?
This week I wrote a couple posts on Reddit under r/writing. That was scary enough, but next week I’m going to post something to be critiqued. I’ll need a Valium for that. And in June I plan to go to a reading. I’ll need some wine for that.
The scary thing is that I’ve been avoiding other writers for almost my entire life and I’ve only just noticed it. There could be other things I am completely avoiding out of fear and not even know they are there. Is it possible we all have these weird things we lie to ourselves about? Things that scare us so deeply that we erase all memory of even ever being afraid?
How do we find them? And how do we go about getting rid of them?
I always end these blog posts asking questions and no one ever answers me. Are you all robots? Are you scared too? Tell me… now really tell me… What is something you actively avoid? It has to be something that is so scary your brain automatically deletes it as an option for your life.
Also… how are you going to plan on chasing it? If I am chasing mine, you gotta chase yours too.