A Balancing Act

For years I have practiced compartmentalizing how I feel about writing. In order to safeguard my insecurities and fears about anything I write, I have become a master of chopping up my work into pieces and doling it out in manageable bits. Whether it is an essay for a class or a poem I keep hidden among the stacks of lessons and papers on my desk, everything I write has a specific place on the continuum of how I feel about my writing. When I am writing for the public, whether it is for school, a job or anything in between, I am detached. I am indifferent. But for the personal, the journal writing, the poem and the story, I am in love. However, my creative work is a guarded secret. It is for my eyes only and not for public consumption; no, no thank you. Does this make any sense at all? Let me explain…

Academic writing is for a class or maybe a conference; it will be graded and critiqued. It will be sliced and diced (like the Slap Chop from those TV ads) and left in pieces among the red or maybe purple ink splashed on the pages. It is judged on a preconceived set of ideas and notions about what is thought to be good writing and ideas. So what does that mean for how I feel about it? Don’t get attached! I look at this writing as a space to grow and learn, but not a place to harbor any great feelings. When I write for my job, my feelings are much the same. I am doing it to get the job done. Assignments are churned out day after day with little, if any, personal feelings. Of course I care about my work, but not about how a particular written assignment is judged. In the academic and work world, writing is a necessity; it’s a consumable product.

My personal and creative writing is another thing entirely. I fall in love as I pull back each page of the faded journal excited to see what I once created. It’s my gallery of past loves. Each piece of art penned in the same slanted script reflected in different forms with different desires. I may be angry and disillusioned or brimming with happiness. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s mine and no one else’s. It’s pristine and untouched from the judgment of others, not to mention the ink of their pens. Am I scared of what others will think? Well, sure, but that’s not the whole reason behind my secrecy. It’s more about having a world of my own where my ideas can live alone and untainted by the thoughts of others. At least that’s what I tell myself.

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  • Danielle says:

    I completely agree! When I write “professionally” (formally?) I feel anxious and simultaneously disenchanted and detached. This seems like a protective/safety mechanism. I don’t like the idea of people being able to read my thoughts. So much so that I find it difficult to even talk about things that I am passionate about without bursting into tears, nevertheless handing someone a hardcopy of my thoughts. I agree, it is important then to not get attached to something you are going to give away.

  • Vanessa says:

    I can really relate to this post. Often times, I feel like a stranger wrote my academic papers. I’m writing them for someone else, not myself, and their success is hinged upon the judgement of others. When I blog or do personal writing, its success is based on my emotional gains from writing it. Without fear of judgement, I often find it much easier to express myself, and I experience a sense of satisfaction from personal writing that an “A” paper could never achieve.


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