June 16, 2010
I tripped into her comment while scrolling down one of my recent posts — a particularly vulnerable one for me — and my body locked the same way it does when I spy a police car purposely placed, lurking on the side of the road. Just as I pass it.
My coworker had written something very simple but sweet, and today she told me that because of the way I’d responded, I made her feel unwelcome and she never read another one. I am so sorry for that. I didn’t mean to embarrass her or make her uncomfortable. I apologized immediately, which led to a lengthy discussion.
This is such an interesting phenomenon to me. I write these posts, mostly for Mom me, and I don’t really expect anyone else to read them. I know it’s silly; the numbers show that people are reading them. But I never know who is reading them. I can describe the sensation only as being akin to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief.”
I write the story and click “Publish.” And there it goes. Off into cyberspace. In my mind, I’ve just been granted a second chance to relive magnificent memories. But you are reading them. I’m overjoyed you’re reading them; but there’s a side of me that sometimes feels like someone’s found the key to my diary.
In my first writing class in college, Dr. C would occasionally schedule writing workshops in which he’d allow us to freewrite (or is it free write?) during class time. I’d hover tightly over my paper because I didn’t want anyone “eavesdropping” on the innermost, purest, rawest Melissa. It was, after all, nonfiction. Even worse when we’d break into small groups for peer review. Police car … police car …
Writers have a tendency to drop their hearts on a page, hand the “finished” page over to the world, saying, “Tell me what you think.” But what we’re really saying is, “Tell me you love it. Tell me it’s the greatest thing you’ve ever read.” Even when we know it isn’t.
“There’s no such thing as writing; only re-writing,” Dr. C used to say. “There’s no such thing as reading; only re-reading.” I’m nothing if not one to take advice. My writing has a minimum of nine lives. There hasn’t been one post I’ve written that I haven’t gone back and updated at least nine times. I’ll re-read something and think: You big dummy, Melissa. That’s the wrong word. That’s a boring word. That’s a misrepresentation of the facts. That doesn’t even come close to describing what you really felt. And how many times did you use the same word in one post? And your grammar sucks.
To intensify matters, I break through the barriers of my diary mentality and consider my audience: Mom and family, friends and … my favorite professor who left me a comment yesterday. Police car! You’ll read more about him later tonight when I write the next post.
I said all of that mumbo jumbo to say this: I’m happy you’re here. I’m thrilled when I see comments because they tell me you’re taking this journey with me, you care, you support this endeavor and strangely but most important to me, you find me slightly interesting. You challenge me and remind me not to get lazy. And that makes the journey that much more exhilarating. Why not live on the edge? Why not live like that police car is always lurking?