I struggled this week to write.
I'm taking an upper level non-fiction workshop this semester, which I chose over fiction after my overwhelmingly wonderful experience in the lower level non-fiction workshop, because I've found that writing from my own "voice" is easier for me than through another characters. Plus, I found that finding MY voice turned me into an infinitely better writer. I have to have my own voice before I can write from another, you feel me?
However, with my first workshop this week, I felt totally out of my element. There was the problem of picking an idea and then there was the problem of writing it. Everything felt forced. Everything felt way to dramatic and nothing came out how I wanted. I listened to my first professor's voice in my head telling me that every word sucked (he really did tell me my pieces sucked sometimes)(and I think you NEED to be told you suck often) and though I wrote and finished it, I didn't feel any sort of emotional connection to it at all.
And though my workshop went much better than I expected, my professor pulled me aside after and said, "Maggie, where are you in this? I don't see you- I see your characters, but not you. Don't be afraid to be a little more messy. I want to see you be messier."
When he said that, it immediately registered to me why I'd struggled. He was right. I told him I had my old professor's voice stuck in my head telling me not to go too far with things and he laughed and said, "But we can trim that down. We can add to it and take things away over and over again! Be messy."
I think I've been afraid to be messy lately - in my journals, on my blog, and in my assignments - because I've been too afraid of being "too cliche". I've been afraid to say the obvious thing on my mind out of fear that it isn't a unique thought. I've been scared to be too honest. I don't really know how to go back to the days when I could write without any restraint, but I think I need to try. I need to try in all regards to get there again, even if it's not something that's not obvious to people that read it, because I know when I'm "there" or not. I looked through my old notebooks today and found a quote from my old workshop professor who said that cliche is only cliche if it feels forced. Everything is a cliche. What makes something unique isn't the story or the experience, but the voice behind it. It doesn't need to be unique. It needs to be mine.
Here's to being messy and unafraid.