During my Writing as Faith Practice course this morning I had a revelation, of sorts. Really, it was an ongoing realization that began last week with a meeting with my Field Education Mentor (a pastor who is guiding me through the experience of working a 9 month internship at a church). I realized that I really, truly am afraid of being misinterpreted. I utterly despise being unclear, or being seen as unclear, or having my words twisted. This is something, I think, that many people fear. It is tied, I believe, to my fear of failure, and, even further back, to a desire for acceptance. I want to be accepted, and feel that I will be shunned if I fail (even though I know this is not true, it is still a fugue roiling round in the back of my mind). A part of failing is failing to communicate. Another is being perceived to be something else, something that I don't want to be, and being perceived as a failure through that.
Let's be concrete. Say that I write on this blog an analysis of a particular work of literature, perhaps THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. In doing so, I write something that misrepresents my view of Dostoyevsky and his writings. People then comment on the blog about my misrepresentation. I realize that what I wrote was not true to what I desired to evoke. I feel failure.
Now, this is a small failure, certainly, but one of the things that I fear. I, perhaps too readily, depend upon public opinion for validation of the things I do. I know this about myself, and have known it for some time. Oddly enough, one of the things I have been battling is this feeling that I am less passionate about things because I have not let myself take risks, and have tried to block out other's opinions of myself. By not being as emotionally available as I could be, I feel that I have, to some extent, blocked off my passions. This has worried me. I am caught between acknowledging what people say about me, hearing their true concerns and then viewing my life from an objective, healthy point of view, and putting up defense walls and trying to be everything to everybody.
Let me put it this way: I want to try to hear what others say and to look at my life through their eyes, yet I want what they say about me to be good (or at least neutral). So, while I am more open to others (in some respects, as in listening to them), I am actually also less open to them ( as in not revealing my true, full self to them). And I feel that this has also affected the way I view and interact with God. I am open to God, to new words, to new directives, to a new hope, but I am not open with God. Perhaps that difference in preposition is truly what I am talking about, being open to, but not open with. This leaves me with a numbed sense of passion, and, in some respects, has led to the difficult discernment problem in which I find myself.
Now, in my class this morning we discussed the necessity of good writers to be vulnerable, to dive in, both to reading other great writers, and to dialoguing with those writers, and to being misinterpreted by their readers. A good writer must both be open to and open with. I am a self-conscious over-editor. Every sentence I write I immediately analyze for accuracy (I just did it then, I added a word to make the sentence make more sense). This means that when I finish writing (if I get into writing at all) I often end with something less personal, less emotional, more filtered. I am constantly worried about what others will think of my writing, whether or not it is good enough for others to read.
This blog is an attempt to force me to simply put writing out there and to allow it to be responded to (AH! dangling preposition. I tried to think of a way to fix this sentence, but couldn't since I'm headed to class in 10 minutes. Wait...."to simply put writing out there and to allow others to respond to it." Still not the most concise or most-well-written sentence. Sigh. I included this as a snippet of what goes on in my mind as I write). Meanwhile, I initiated early on in this blogging a policy (or tactic, or strategy...first presidential debate anyone?) of comment moderation. This ties to my fear of being misunderstood or misrepresented. So, I have taken the small, but for me, bold step of removing comment moderation. I can still delete comments (I believe) but now your comments should appear right away, without any screening from me.
One small step for Marc...
Thanks for reading, O Faithful Reader!