I don’t get writer’s block: I get sharer’s block. I missed last week’s blog post because of it, the first one I have missed all year.
Sometimes I write a piece and I think, ‘That’s pretty good!’ But, by the time I have given it a day or a week to ferment, it morphs into a terrible, very bad collection of words. A monstrosity. At least to my eyes.
That’s when I wonder if all my writing is piffle.
I wonder what value my voice can possibly have. Who will read this? Why does it matter? What will this piece add over and above the many other excellent words out there? Am I taking away from someone else by pushing my words out?
Debates wage in paper-based and online places, about the value of a voice, how certain voices must be shared, important stories must be told. But important voices are often challenging, unsavoury even. “It’s not the words, because I agree with what they’re saying,” some well-meaners aver. “It’s in the way they get their message across. Do they have to be so…shrill?”
Yet the voices heard the most are arguably the most shrill. They have cash for megaphones. And they don’t just get their pictures in the paper, they own shares in it. And readers are expected to lap up stories about falls from grace and rigged elections and terrorism and thank goodness for the royals, with little mention of refugee mistreatment or rights being quietly whisked away.
Enter me: born into a level of privilege by virtue of my skin tone and birthplace, the recipient of a low-cost higher education in a relatively safe country, with clean air and free speech. What can I possibly add to the discourse?
Words have power; writing is a risk. By sharing, I risk coming across as gloating or ungrateful, exclusive or appropriating, hung up or dismissive, educated or ignorant. [Aside: this.]
Sometimes I feel like I hold too much privilege, sometimes not enough. I occupy that in-between space awkwardly and incompletely. Still, I exist, I think, I feel, I am me, and I am not me without my words, and so I write. I just write through — for my eyes, from my heart.
Is it enough? Does it matter?
Regardless, I’m posting this before sharer’s block changes my mind.
Sharing a piece of me: after being longlisted for the Fish International Short Memoir Contest in March, my short memoir piece, ‘Water and Light’, was named as a semifinalist in Hippocampus Magazine‘s “Remember in November” Contest — and it’s in this month’s issue. I hope you enjoy the read, and that you soak up more of the wonderful creative non-fiction I am privileged to be published alongside.