I feel as though I’ve stalled out on this personal narrative project to some extent. I’ve only missed a few days, and I don’t think I’ve missed two in a row at any point. Still, I’m finding fewer things to write than I was at the beginning of the month. That doesn’t mean I have fewer things to say. I’ve been surprised at my impulse to write about a lot of things. However, most of them, particularly in the last week, have not made it past my public vs. private filter. So I’ve done a number of shorter and less narrative posts, which feel a bit like cheating.
When I started this project, I expected to struggle with thinking of topics. I was really surprised to find that as soon as I started talking about things, I had a flood of other things that I wanted to talk about. I felt like my filter disappeared, and I had to rebuild it with some new parameters. That probably wasn’t reflected at all in what actually appeared here, but it was a strange experience for me. Usually I don’t even feel the initial impulse to share things, let alone actually share them. I’ve found that there are a couple of additional questions I want to ask myself (to add to the ones I talked about in my first post this month) when I’m thinking about writing something for public consumption. These were the questions I started with:
- What do I give away (either in the sense of revealing, or in the sense of a gift) when I say something, and to whom am I giving it?
- What things do I share because they might help someone else?
- What things am I willing to trade away to any taker because I want to be known?
- What things do I save for the people I choose?
- What do I hear that someone chose me for?
I’m adding these:
- What things are strictly self-serving or attention-seeking?
- What things should really just be said to one person? (For me, this is mainly a bravery question. Am I inclined to write something here because it’s easier than saying it to the person I really want to hear it? But it’s also a good guard against passive-aggressive posting. I’ve had the impulse to write private things publicly for both reasons.)
- Am I willing to say things about myself that might upset my family? [Yes.]
- Am I willing to say things about my family that might upset my family? [No.] (These last two questions are a fine line apart, and I’m sure I’ve gotten it wrong more than once, and probably will do again.)
I think partly this impulse to talk about everything all at once is because I put the project in a short time package. If I were another kind of person, I’d have decided that I wanted to do this and just worked it in slowly, instead of deciding to conquer my fear and reluctance in 30 days. That’s not to say that it’s gone badly: I feel more confident and less reluctant, and I’m glad that I’ve done this. I would have felt less raw and unfiltered if I’d done it slowly, but I think it’s possible that I also wouldn’t have learned as much as I have. I’ve learned that I feel better writing and posting something that’s weighing on my mind. The point for me has been to process it this way and let it go. I’m very grateful to everyone who has responded to what I’ve written, either here or personally, and for the stories that I’ve gotten to hear in return.
Three more days to go. I’m curious to see what I’ll have to say.