Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dialog with a stripper

The idea of becoming scares me

I think there are moments when every writer forgets they are actually a writer. Suddenly you become the worst person in the world, and your mind is filled with words like lazy and unproductive and destined to fail. This is called the inside of my head when I am going through writer's block.

I sat in English class this morning, where my teacher read us a poem written during the siege of Sarajevo. The poet said that writing through the war was hard, but what was harder was not writing.

She asked us to write our responses, and I wrote that writers get naked for a living.

It's a line in a poem by Rudy Francisco, in which he compares being a writer to being a stripper.

A certain degree of honesty, and probably fearless stupidity, is needed to share your soul with the world. The most intimate, honest details of yourself are on display for other people and some people call me brave.

He looked in my eyes and told me this was a good starting place, but a starting place for what?

What will honesty and a few pennies in my back pocket buy me?

And when they say love doesn't pay the bills they mean it.

One of my biggest fears is that I will lose myself to a job I hate, to a life I resent, to something that feels forced and so unlike me.

Writing is one of those careers that makes people question your sanity. Writers always get this reputation for being crazy, and maybe we are.

Maybe it takes a little bit of crazy to bear your soul for the world to see, to turn your deepest failures and disappointments into poetry, to stand naked in front of people you've never even met, and some you have, and bear your soul, saying "Will you take this for me?"

Sometimes I'm scared that they will break it.

Most times I remember I don't have a whole lot left to lose.

I'm not sure which one scares me more.

When I was little, the first time I heard the word stripper used in a sentence, I laughed. As I got older, I began to see more of myself in the moment when I'd first heard that word. I was always taking off layers, spreading myself thin trying to get attention and fill this void inside of me. My sanity was a small price to pay for feeling worthy.

You probably know more of my secrets than you think you do.

And don't get me wrong, I love what I do. I can't imagine doing anything else. Writing is like breathing the purest oxygen, it's making love all over again every time I pick up the pencil and put it to paper, it's how I'm finding my sanity again.

But there are days when I am lost in the business of it all, when being a struggling artist sounds less romantic and more desperate, when self doubt plagues my mind and writer's block leaves me lacking inspiration and creativity and the feeling of fullness I have come to marvel at as it blossoms to life inside of me.

There are days when being a writer feels a lot like being a stripper, and I wonder why I'm standing here naked, bearing my soul with all it's scars and tattered edges.

I tell my version of the truth, hand my heart over to people with whom it will never be properly introduced. Sometimes I forget to tie my shoelaces and end up tripping over myself on my way out the front door to make something beautiful.

Sometimes my beautiful ambition turns into standing on the street corner with a bloody nose and a bruised eye without my clothes. My soul is dangling outside of my body and I wonder why I love this job so much.

Sometimes the things you love have the power to destroy you. And sometimes they also have the power to put you back together.

For me, writing is both. It is my destroyer, and my redeemer. It is everything beautiful, the first thing I want to do when I wake up in the morning, the thing I want to spend my whole life doing, how I interpret the world.

It is messy and honest and bold and beautiful and if you give me five minutes of your time I'll entertain you by stripping down to my soul and letting you sneak a peek.

I only ask that you are gentle with it.

Because after the night is over and I've covered my soul with layers again I still have to go home.

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