|Random Doodling by Avery|
George and I recently watched a fantastic documentary: “Mortified Nation”, based on live events held around the world where adults go on stage and read excerpts of their childhood diaries. I laughed, I cried, I cringed. True to its title, it was mortifying.
I kept several different journals throughout my childhood, but none of them survived to bear witness to my awkward adolescence. I destroyed my journals, not just because they contained sensitive information, but because, now as always, I hate what I write. This is quite a conundrum for someone who identifies as a writer. I can barely bring myself to read things that I wrote a few years or even months ago. An old grocery list culled from the bottom of my purse once brought me shame.
My good friend called me this weekend to ask for permission to reprint a blog post I wrote a few years ago. Of course I gave my immediate consent because, well, I’d do anything for her, and also because, let’s face it, I was flattered. A post I had written in 2011 had made an impression on her, and was timely and relevant to a writing project of her own. But when I went back to read it, I cringed. Bits and pieces of it were ok, maybe even good, but I thought to myself, I could have done better.
Therein lies the rub of writing. It can always be better, which is exactly why I force myself to keep on doing it, even if it means blushing with embarrassment upon hitting the "publish" button, or ripping apart journals and burying them at the bottom of the trash can. Every once in a while, if I’m lucky, a sentence or a paragraph turns out to be really great. It escapes my vicious editorial weeding, plants itself in a reader’s mind and grows. How could I hate that?
Over the weekend we excavated a strip of weed covered dirt in the backyard to, quite literally, pave a path from the house to an outbuilding we constructed a few years ago. Originally intended as a garden shed, its purpose has been upgraded. With a thorough cleaning and a bit of sprucing, it will become my studio, a place I can go to write without as many distractions (no piles of dirty dishes or laundry, to be specific). With shovel in hand, I told George, “It feels like we’re building a path to my future.”
A room of one’s own does not a writer make, but it seems a good place to practice . . . or at least a place to record and destroy my mortifying moments in private.