I have a fear of public spaces and get anxious at the thought of having my writing or voice floating around. This public forum is no exception. But I figured I could use my fear in a productive way because I do have to post.
I think my preference to show my work cold (as in, let me whip out my laptop in this café if my only other option is to send it to you when I cannot see your reaction) is a fear of rejection or being exposed as a fraud. I’d rather have a reader dwell less with my work. Which is actually a lie (but it sits well with my nerves, in theory) because the less time a reader spends with it, the less they’d get something out of the experience (not that anyone has to get anything from my writing) and the less feedback I’d receive. Having a reader (unless they have malicious intent), as we know, is immensely helpful. Of course, I would never want to control readers’ reactions or interpretations, but my unease with sharing is due to a shift, or loss, of control. It’s just that the page provides an illusion of silence or isolation, and sometimes I share too much.
Along with the concern of just revealing too much (though not all of my work is autobiographical), I fear becoming sentimental, as my poems often stem from “a feeling.” Because we have to (and want to) share our work with others, my instinct is to tuck away into myself, maybe squish my two-word name into a “less foreign-looking” one. I think that is partly why I am drawn to poetry—because there is an expectation unlike that in prose to compress, though it is not my strength. The temptation, then, is to self-censor, condense, or qualify to the point of abstraction, leaving too much to be unpacked.
Lastly, I have trouble posting because, well, as I mentioned, impostor syndrome. I tell as few people as I can (or can remember to remind myself to) that I write (sometimes even I forget I write) because I’ve learned that when people don’t know of something, there’s no way they can expect it (in this case, at least), and I feel less ashamed for not delivering. I try to practice this in every sector of my life, actually, to my loss—I call it my sphere of influence, for lack of a better word, which I try to severely limit. Making blog posts—this does the exact opposite. Sharing work, again, diametrically opposed. But I do think that when you know someone has high expectations of you, it can become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sharing work can also be an incredibly validating experience, along with the opportunity to be in a roomful of people who love writing and discussing writing.
I want to become comfortable speaking in public. I want to remain cautious of and about what I contribute, what space I fill. And, ultimately, I want to give a voice to the person in me who is not a writer, though perhaps there is no separation.