The only way to find your true self is by recklessness and freedom. If you feel like a murderer for the time being, write like one.– Barbara Ueland
If there’s one thing that kills my writing, it’s this – trying to sound smarter, more eloquent, more cheerful more insightful, more anything than I really am at that moment. I find myself doing that a lot – even here on this blog. I want to sit down and write something that will make people give that little sigh that comes out so often at poetry readings. I want people to forward this one post on to everyone they know, and I want to see my Google Analytics score soar right off the graph. And yet, every time I do this, my writing is false and fake and, frankly, not me at all.
The real me – the me today – is tired and a bit sad and not at all inspired to write anything in particular. If I had to capture my mood today, I think I’m pretty Eeyore – mopey and gray and feeling even a little homeless at the moment. And the reality is it feels good to admit that. It feels really freeing to just write from where I am and go with that – no pretense, no secrecy, no false face of joy. Just me – Eeyore-like and still in my pjs.
This is Barbara Ueland’s point – we need to write from our true selves, the places where our souls sing and cry. We need to write what we really know – not what will get us readers or what will boost our Klout score, not what we think our subjects want to hear about themselves, and most certainly not what we wish we were as writers. I am not Anne Lamott, as much as I’d like to have her version of wit. I am not Marilynne Robinson, whose ability to pitch emotion perfectly makes my heart sing. I am Andi Cumbo – just me, in all that there is of that today. And tomorrow, for as Ueland says, “the true self is never a fixed thing. . . . And do not try to be consistent, for what is true to you today may not be true at all tomorrow, because you see a better truth.” Tomorrow, I may be more like Tigger – although I never really get too bouncy and perky like that – but today, I am Eeyore, and that’s okay.
Do you ever find yourself writing from something other than your true self? What makes you do so – thoughts of publication, desire for more readers, a wish to protect other’s feelings, a sense that you have to always be happy? Please share.