I submitted a piece for publication this month. It was hard for me to press the submit button. Sharing my writing has become harder in the last few years. It could be because a lot of the works are fragmented and unfinished but I’m discovering it has more to do with a fear of revealing myself on the page. If I’m really letting myself sit with this truth, it goes deeper: I’m afraid of discovering my self, or a part of my self, that maybe I don’t like so much or that doesn’t align with the idea of my self I have so carefully, painstakingly, curated.
The piece I submitted met the word count and the publication style and pulled in some pretty good phrases and layered in some pretty good ideas. It felt good while I composed it. I pulled from a number of earlier writings and wove them round a theme. The piece was born of intellectual exercise—my constant crutch—not a dreaming. But when I read the piece over again, with the help of loved ones’ feedback gently opening my eyes to what I had placed on the page, the dreaming, the subconscious, was revealed there…blurry, almost like a feeling of being on the cusp of discovering…something. And I balked at working more deeply with the piece. It was clear the writing was simply a door into another room, an unfamiliar room. I am stuck on the threshold.
But I wanted to meet the submission window, so I fixed up the easy bits, wrote a cover letter, uploaded it, and hit the submit button.
Now I’m actively ignoring the whole thing. I could say I’m just taking a break, but no, I’m actively ignoring that piece now. The knowledge I am afraid is haunting me.
Two writings pinned to my wall are helping me to turn toward the work:
Our Real Work
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
Copyright ©1983 by Wendell Berry, from Standing by Words. Counterpoint.
And a quote I can’t find the orginal source for but taken from Twitter (?) attributed to Claudia Rankine: “You do the work and in the end the world will need it or not.”
Do the work I will.