Tuesday, November 14, 2006

distinction, develop, delight

I love to write. Yet, it is my most frustrating area of procrastination. I posted to my blog every week for the first 6 months, but after a while I started putting pressure on myself to post so the people reading my blog wouldn't think I was flaky. I thought I should think about it as if it was a weekly column, with a deadline. I had good intentions- writing helps me sort out my feelings and rotates my perspective around. Sometimes I feel burned out by this whole process of change though, and retreat into old patterns of shutting down and making myself numb. Rather than escape even further into myself, I try to push myself to stay open and keep writing, if not for me than for my friends and well-wishers who read this.

I wish I had not started thinking about my blog as an obligation, though. It is really something I do for myself. It makes me happy to write because I love writing. I love how I feel when I'm preparing to write. I start with an idea, and let it bounce around in my head, my chest, and my stomach. I even feel it in my toes. With poetry, I usually start with some parameter- to write a poem about something, or in some style. When I was in poetry classes I usually had an assignment that I would think about for several days before I started. When I let my mind wander- on the bus, while I was walking (moving in space) my thoughts would go to the poem I was formulating. I would start with a phrase, usually, or a word, and that would turn into a line, and the poem would crawl out of that line, and start constructing itself.

My poems, after suitable gestation, take on a life of their own after they hit the page. I don't know what the poem will have to say after it starts to formulate itself. My blog posts are similar. I have an idea, and I usually have some sentences, phrases, or even paragraphs or a paragraph structure in mind before I start writing. Once I start writing, though, I don't really know where it will go. My process isn't as loose as stream of consciousness writing (not a fan of that style), but it is sort of similar in that it just flows out of me, and I am always surprised by the results. I do, however, edit- extensively, unendingly, exhaustively, especially with poetry. The nice thing about my blog is that I feel a little freer to just writing something and let it go, although it still takes me about 3 hours to do one post, even with the editing cut down to the minimum I am willing to live with.

So why don't I write as much as I'd like to? I'd like to write every day, and I'd like to write a lot more poetry than I am. When I was young, I was an overachiever. I was trying to get noticed. I could never do anything right as far as my parents were concerned, but a lot of my teachers thought I was fabulous. I avoided the reality of my life in homework, reading, writing, and art. I remember being very lonely back then. I was usually ignored, or getting negative attention, and I felt trapped and helpless. I am still struggling to move past that. When I was in high school, being brilliant at school got to be too much because I was just trying to survive the intensifying abuse, the foster care system, and my own depression and suicidal desires. I went from straight a's to dropping out of school, and it devastated my self-esteem because for so long all my self-worth was tied up in being good at school. It was the only positive feedback I got during the formative years of my life.

I struggle with a lot of anxiety and ambivalence around my writing and other artistic expression. I still love to be recognized for my work, and the best thing anyone can do for me is to compliment my writing. At the same time that I feel satisfied and proud of myself when I write, I feel like a failure because I have this idea that I should be so much better, and so much more accomplished. I feel crippled by my past, and slightly repulsed by my "confessional" writing. I think I'm still struggling to accept the part of me that feels victimized, thinking that the "strong" part of me should have fought back harder, and that I should be able to walk away from the past and never give it another thought. When I identify with the part of me that writes and is creative and expressive, I open myself up to feelings of loneliness and helplessness- to feeling misunderstood and overlooked. My creative side and my "inner child" are perpetually holding hands. It is still extremely painful, almost overwhelmingly so, for me to identify with who I was as a child- creative, expressive, talented, and precocious, as well as utterly terrified, confused, rejected, alone, and powerless.


Lisa said...

I am a former foster child, current child advocate and a writer:



Please email me anytime... (there are links to do so on both my blog and web site).

I'd like to talk with you about:

1.) Foster Care Alumni of America

2.) Writing

3.) A workshop that I am planning on "Fostering Intimacy"

This workshop will focus on issues like trust, attachment, PTSD and other damage from the foster care system, and how they can be overcome in order to build healthy relationships with other people...


Anonymous said...

You and your boyfriend are adorable. You seem very happy together.


Tealrat said...

hi Lisa, you have an amazing blog. thanks for all the great work you are doing! I sent you an email.

Leslie, I posted that cute picture because I figured it was my last chance. my boyfriend and I broke up a couple weeks ago. sad :( we weren't so happy after all.

thanks for the comments!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about you and Jonathan. You still look good in the photo though :) I like your shirt.
Doesn't that chinese character means happiness? But don't take my word for it. I just know it's used in phrases like "happy birthday" or "merry christmas".