la_marquise: (Marquise)
[personal profile] la_marquise
I don't like to write about writing.
I don't like to talk about writing, much of the time. There is a reflex in me that makes me close down whenever anyone asks me about what I'm working on, how I write, how I'm getting on. Oh, I can talk about the generalities -- voice and pace and dialogue and so on -- if I have to, but even then, I'm not really comfortable.
You see, in my head, writing and fear are all tangled up. And I do not like to be afraid.

If I have a single talent, it's fear. I'm really really good at it. I can fill myself up, inch by slow inch, until my skin is no more than a thin boundary on terror and every single part of me is sparking with alarm. I can turn enjoyment into duty and duty into fear in a matter of moments.

It doesn't really matter why this is so. Let's say it's how I'm wired, and move on. There are lots of things that scare me, mostly irrational (it's a fact that I am far more afraid of zombies than I am of being run over. When it comes to things like that latter, I'm fairly calm). And when the spiral, the heavy dead grip of fear takes hold, I find it almost impossible to break free. Once that shiver is under my skin, it takes over.

And writing is scary. People say this a lot, and there are endless lists as to why. Fear of being exposed, of failure, of taking risks... I understand all of those and I sympathise, but, for all their familiarity within the language of writers, they are not really what I mean when I think about the intersection of writing and fear. What I mean, what this fear means to me is this: I am afraid to lose permission.

It sounds ridiculous put like that. And, on the scale of real fears -- of being murdered for one's race or gender identity or sexual orientation or faith, of famine, of flood, of homelessness, of loss of freedom, of persecution -- it is a tiny, unimportant thing. It's ridiculous. I know it's ridiculous, and yet there it is, making me unsafe in my skin.

I'm not good at permission. There are lots of reasons for that. Some of them are socio-cultural, to do with class and gender. Some are personal, to do with lived experience. Many of them are just plain irrational. But in the end, most of the time I hover on the edge of feeling I am not allowed to write, that me writing somehow takes away from others, that it's wrong. I've felt this about writing since long before I was first published. It isn't about public space (though I worry about that too, because there are enough white writers already, and I'm nothing special). It is, quite simply, about whether or not it's okay for me to set down words in a line on a page. Even if no-one will ever read them but me and a handful of my friends.

This looks nonsensical, even to me. But for whatever reason, because of how I'm wired, because of the things that have happened in my life, I find it incredibly hard to give myself permission to do things. And writing matters. I've written since I was 7 or 8. It used to be easy. No-one minded me writing stories for myself and my friends. It was only in my 20s that I discovered how competitive some people can be, how confrontational, about writing -- which is not a competitive activity. And, well... if there is something I can do that others want, I'm wired to think its my duty to step aside and let them have that space. And once that happens, I find it very hard to try and find any new space for myself. Someone else wants it. So I mustn't have it. And I stop writing. Even just for myself, because someone else might not approve.

It's ridiculous. Writing is not a competition, though equally it is far from a level playing field and there are many many writers out there, probably far better than me, who face huge institutional, social and cultural barriers. It matters hugely that writers who face fewer barriers -- writers like me -- boost and support those voices. They matter far more than my nonsense.

But fear is funny and it smothers us. When that inner place where my writing, at least, comes from, is bound up in fear, it paralyses everything else, too. I stop feeling like me. And I am doing it to myself. Those other people are not withholding permission. I don't matter to them at all. And so I'm writing this, to remind myself that this is my fear, not something external to me. To expose the fear to the open gaze of the web, to remind myself of my own ridiculousness. To expose it, even, to anyone who does think I shouldn't have permission.

Because it isn't up to them. It's not up to anyone but me to grant that permission. And, well... I need to learn how to do that by myself.

Skirt of the day: blue cotton print.

Date: 2016-02-08 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mizkit.livejournal.com
And while you learn to give yourself that permission, we've got your back. And after, too. *hugs*

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Date: 2016-02-08 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] athenais.livejournal.com
Occasionally I have thought that freeing oneself of needing either approval or permission to be our true selves is the very definition of being grown up. But so many people, myself included, continue on feeling those things are secretly necessary that that cannot be right. It would be good to be fearless. Let us keep trying.

Date: 2016-02-09 11:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
Yes! It's so hard, and yet so necessary.

Date: 2016-02-08 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
No one else writes like you. No one else can write like you. Yes, you are something special, and acknowledging that may be as hard as giving yourself permission.

Date: 2016-02-09 11:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
Thank you: from you, that means a lot.
xx

Date: 2016-02-08 08:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] birdsedge.livejournal.com
What they said. Got your back.

Give yourself all the permission you need because a) you deserve it and b) you are a fine writer and your readers need you.

Date: 2016-02-08 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clothsprogs.livejournal.com
This. Absolutely this!!!

Teddy

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Date: 2016-02-08 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miintikwa.livejournal.com
If you need someone to say "yes, do this," I volunteer. But you have to say it back to me. Because I grok this on a visceral level, and I think it's partly why I'm having trouble settling down to edit book 3. *sigh* *lean*

Date: 2016-02-09 11:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
There are lots of negative things about the internet, but one of its greatest positives is that it lets us find and support each other. I have your back, always.

Date: 2016-02-08 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saare-snowqueen.livejournal.com
Something to think about. And you know I've read your writing, so you know I have the experience to say this. Your work is you, is unique and special. No one else can write what you write or bring the reader those special insights that you have struggled so hard to develop.

So if you were to deny yourself permission to write in order, you think, to make a space for another writer, you would also be denying us, your friends and readers the very unique privilege of reading your work. And while that hypothetical other writer might be interesting and enjoyable to read, she would not be you. There is only one Kari, and she is irreplaceable.

Date: 2016-02-08 09:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aliettedb.livejournal.com
*hugs and have your back*

Date: 2016-02-08 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aliettedb.livejournal.com
(sorry for the brevity. All my spare energy seems to have vanished down a black hole)

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Date: 2016-02-08 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh love, I know what you mean. I went for years trying to find a "duty" and "responsible" reason for going to cons, because enjoying them wasn't permitted. It went against everything I had been brought up to believe. Of course we have permission to write and to enjoy things, just sometimes it's hard to convince that little demon, sitting on our shoulder, whispering in our ear of it! *hugs* Keep giving yourself permission cos I love what you write!

Date: 2016-02-09 11:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
I work at cons to justify being allowed to have fun :-) We are quite the pair.
<3

Date: 2016-02-08 10:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dhampyresa.livejournal.com
*hugs*

You have a right to your writing. You writing doesn't stop anyone from writing too.

Date: 2016-02-09 11:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
Yes: I try to remind myself of that latter.

Date: 2016-02-08 11:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] history-monk.livejournal.com
Give yourself permission. Practice on days when it's easy. You're a fine writer, and you deserve permission.

Date: 2016-02-08 11:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] liralen.livejournal.com
I'm glad you're fighting the good fight, and understand yourself well enough to know all this about yourself. I know far too many women who have decided that they don't have permission, and are sitting on manuscripts or telling themselves that they have no right to a voice...

I'm glad you're doing this, knowing this, and fighting to allow yourself write, and know that you're the only one who can do it for the long run. Just as I'm the only one that can free me to write, too.

Thanks for voicing this.

Date: 2016-02-09 11:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
Thank you.
I wrote this partly to challenge myself but also because I know many writers who have similar issues, and, well, I thought I should say it, so that they might perhaps feel safer. Or something like that.

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Date: 2016-02-08 11:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com
Wisely said, and I am so happy to see your words appearing here, which means maybe some will appear in a book when you are ready. Yay!

Date: 2016-02-09 11:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
There are two books that are 3/4 done.... Sigh.

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Date: 2016-02-08 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hrj.livejournal.com
No two books ever occupy the same space (well, short of plagiarism, of course). One need not give way for another.

Date: 2016-02-09 11:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
There are issues around reaching the gatekeepers which disadvantage some --- writers of colour, QUILTBAG writers, writers living with disabilities and others -- which are very real, I think. But yes, voices are unique.

Date: 2016-02-09 07:51 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Illuminati)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
I'm glad you have this much understanding of yourself. I hope it helps you to do what you need to in order to write.

It actually sounds like you could do with being a bit more selfish all round...

Date: 2016-02-09 11:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
Thank you! I'm not sure on the selfish front, but I could use more courage some days.

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Date: 2016-02-09 10:18 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Anna _Wing here. I wouldn't venture to talk about writing, but every day is about dealing with fear. Mostly minor uncertainties and apprehensions if you are lucky (will this new route go where it is supposed to go? Will my hat stay in place if the wind gets stronger?) but dealing with those as you go along is good practice. Small issues faced can usefully be treated as training exercises for big issues.

Date: 2016-02-09 11:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
That's a good way of looking at it: thank you.

Date: 2016-02-09 10:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klwilliams.livejournal.com
Nothing is quite as paralyzing as those little voices within our own heads. And they know all of our buttons and how to push them, because they are them. *hugs* I'm so very sorry your little voices attack you this way. I love your writing, and hope you keep doing it.

Date: 2016-02-09 11:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
Thank you! We need a spray for those writing demons.

Date: 2016-02-09 12:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cmcmck.livejournal.com
Writing IS scary, especially poetry as it gives you so few places to hide!

Date: 2016-02-09 02:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
Poetry is the hardest of all: I am in awe of those like you who are poets.

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Date: 2016-02-09 12:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mevennen.livejournal.com
I've said this on FB. I think this is an important discussion because so many people feel they need permission, and it's not as though there is 'writing space' which can be absorbed by too many people wanting it, like a pub running out of beer. Publishing is a different story: there are gatekeeping issues, but a lot of the issues in publishing are the issues of global capitalism, and good luck with any of us really coming to terms with those.

However, it has literally never occurred to me that I would need someone's permission to do anything, other than when a child, out of politeness ('do you mind if I take the afternoon off on Friday as I have a dental appointment?') or expediency (this usually relates to national laws, like not driving the wrong way down a one way street). At my first day in infant school a little girl next to me took it upon herself to tell me what I could and couldn't do, and I asked to be moved and was.

I now move myself, and will tell the officious person - however justified they may think they may be - to shove their comments where the sun don't shine. This makes me unpopular but in the main gives me a life unencumbered by the self righteous.

One doesn't need permission to do anything (except in the instances above). One is an adult in a relatively free society.

Date: 2016-02-09 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
Nods. As Athenais said above, the permission thing seems to tie in with adulthood, and we all seem to reach that in different ways and forms and stages. I can adult on behalf of others, but find it much harder for things which only affect me. Work in progress!

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Date: 2016-02-09 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-cataclysm.livejournal.com
I like your writing and hope that you will be able to outwit the fear and write some more soon.

I do think writing is naturally stressful because it is an occupation that forces the writer to look inward.

Date: 2016-02-10 11:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
That is very true. And it's solitary, which can be weird sometimes.

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Date: 2016-02-10 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fidelioscabinet.livejournal.com
((((((HUGS))))))

Corny visual representations of real affection aside, if you don't write you deprive me of the joy of reading your work. So take that, Confused and Conflicted Sense of Obligation! I demand to be made happy! Cater to my sense of entitlement! And everyone else in this list of comments-- we're all entitled to read your stuff because it makes us happy! While I may be a brat the others are quite nice and deserve the gratification.
Also, all local cats would like to point out that a writer sitting down writing is a writer that can conveniently be sat upon, which is a Good Thing.

Date: 2016-02-11 11:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/
Thankl you!
And it is quite so with the cats. They like me in one place, easy to find and sit upon.

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