Years ago, in the days of LISTSERVs, I participated in an email discussion that focused on the intersection of feminism and ecology. The posts were intense. We were writing about matters close to our hearts, and things would get very heated.
I got to the point where I dreaded opening my email because the criticisms that landed in my inbox felt so personal. And sometimes they were personal. After a few weeks I quit the list. It was too much for me.
Maybe you’ve gone through something similar.
I live an unconventional life. I hold some unconventional opinions, and sometimes I like to write about them. I don’t want my fear of harsh judgment to stop me from writing.
I know that fear can't be conquered, not really, that all I can do as a writer is put fear in my pocket and carry it along with me. But sometimes I don’t do that. Sometimes I let fear stop me in my tracks.
Maybe you do that, too.
For the past several weeks I’ve been working on a piece of writing that scares me.
The subject matter is, again, close to my heart, and again I hear the harsh voice of criticism every time I sit down to work. But this time it’s not in my inbox, it’s in my head.
The voice demands to know who the hell I think I am, tackling this subject. The voice tells me I’m no expert, that I lack credentials, that I have no business expressing an opinion. The voice is like a shadow on the wall that swells to monster size the more I duck my head and try to ignore it.
I don’t know how to silence that voice, how to vanquish that shadow. So I’m writing about it here, in the hope that by shining a light on it, it will shrink back to a manageable size, and I can get some work done.
And maybe, knowing you’re not alone in feeling similar fears, you can take heart, and get some work done, too.
Okay, then. Thanks for your indulgence. Carry on.