When I sat down to write this post (or rather, when I didn’t), I realized I don’t so much suffer from writer’s block as I suffer from a block in committing my thoughts to paper, or, in this case, to the blogosphere. In other words, I don’t have a problem forming words, sentences, and stories within the sanctity of my mind; I have a problem sharing them with the world.
I created this blog as a commitment to sharing my voice and my truth. Which may differ vastly from yours. In his essay titled “The Artist’s Dilemma,” artist Mark Rothko wrote, “The constant repetition of falsehood is more convincing than the demonstration of truth. It is understandable…how the artist might actually cultivate this moronic appearance, this deafness, this inarticulateness, in an effort to evade the million irrelevancies which daily accumulate concerning his work. For, while the authority of the doctor or plumber is never questioned, everyone deems himself a good judge and an adequate arbiter of what a work of art should be and how it should be done.”
When I wrote the subtitle, “birthing courage at the heart of fear,” I wasn’t being loquacious—I knew that’s exactly what this process would require of me. Like Rothko, lurking at the heart of my fear is my fear of your judgment. Right now, as you’re reading this, you’re forming opinions around my words, my work, my self. This makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. (Which, you might argue, is reason No. 1 not to start a blog. Believe me, I get it.)
This morning, I was asked a profound question: what do you want to accomplish in this lifetime, and why? The answer came immediately in the form of something a very brilliant and gifted shamanic astrologer once told me after poring over my natal chart. The real question was: would I have the courage to speak it, in the form in which it came to me—the unedited, unadulterated truth—versus the safe, sanitized version my inner editor siphoned off the top in order to “protect” me from the inevitable judgment it would invite?
What the astrologer told me was that the potential exists for me to be the greatest writer of all time. Grandiose? Absolutely. Delusional? Possibly. Unlikely? Perhaps. (I’m visualizing you in my mind’s eye right now, raising your eyes to heaven, with a thought bubble protruding from your head that reads, “Okaaaaaay, Shakespeare’s sister, good luck with that.” Thanks. I’ll need it. Because there’s a little something standing in my way: sitting down and actually committing my words to the page, and to the world’s stage.)
Rothko’s work would have been wasted had he not overcome his own recalcitrance around courting an audience. It goes back to the analogy of the falling tree: If no one is around to witness the earth-moving moment it crashes to the forest floor, did it really make a sound? Did the tree ever really exist? The truth is I don’t know the answer to these questions. But I do know that it would have been a tremendous tragedy had such a powerful and poignant and painful moment passed un-witnessed.
Works of art are often messy.
The way I see it, we each make up one giant jigsaw puzzle comprised of 7 billion odd pieces. My job is to realize the potential inherent in my piece. If I can’t even bring myself to voice it, then how on earth am I going to actualize it? If I’m more concerned about what you think than what might be possible, then my potential will remain forever unfulfilled. And if I don’t realize my potential, then my piece of the puzzle won’t be all it can be. And if my piece isn’t all it can be, then the enormous canvas we’re co-creating together will be less than.
So, I swallowed my misguided humility, my self-judgment and my self-imposed limitation, and told my friend that I wish to be the greatest writer of all time. And then I sat down to write this post. Because you’ve got to start somewhere, right?