Here´s a question for you: Do I write? The quick answer is: Yes, I certainly put a string of words together which may or may not be legible, interesting or intelligent.
The more correct answer is: No, I blog.
When I think of writers -when I imagine the kind of writer I want to be- I picture people madly conceiving characters and events. Ones which talk and live, touching readers, pulling them into their fictional lives. These writers, as I picture them in my head, usually have messy hair and poor taste in clothing. They may even have a white scarf draped casually around their neck as proof of artistic-atedliness. But whatever their fashion sense, the one thing they have is the ability to create something grand and complex and enthralling from nothing but their imagination.
This is something I do not do. In this blog I talk about me. Only me. The world´s biggest ego self-stroking, that is. But I do not invent anything, nor try and make it into an engaging, arcing plot which will drag readers along with it at break-neck speed, sucking them into a world of my envisioning, twanging on heart strings with the suaveness of a young Elvis in a beach campfire scene.
But I want to do this. I want to be crooning to all those chicks in hot pants, slinging my hips suggestively and wrapping all around my finger with a sexy curl of the lip. So I joined a writing group. And next week I am meant to present something of my own for critique.
Presenting science work is easy. Sure, you can be nervous about standing up in a room full of people, but usually my giant Leo-ego leapt in with a roar, feeding greedily on the undivided attention I received from the three people in the room not napping. The questions can be tough, and leave you with a feeling of "Fuck, I don´t know enough here", but it´s still just science. A problem is presented, experiments to answer it performed, results displayed. The answer is Yes, No, or Maybe and what it is is not dependant on you. It either exists or doesn´t and you´ve done your best to determine the reality of it. But it´s not personal. There´s nothing of your own heart and soul on the line.
This is different and my fight-or-flight response has kicked into overdrive. Adrenaline is coursing through my veins, my muscles are twitching with the need to get away. Fast. Now. RUN. My stomach is a clenched fist as I´m sifting through the words I´ve written - fragments, snippets, ideas, drabble - and cringing, discarding, worrying. This one´s crap. This one´s boring. This one´s childish. What was I THINKING doing this?
Get away. Fast. Now. RUN.
If I can swallow my panic and turn up next week with something, anything, I´ll have defeated the immediate flight response. If I can resist walking in, arms windmilling and looking to knock all unconscious before presenting my work, I´ll have defeated the fight response. If I manage to get some words on paper which make me slightly happy between now and then I´ll have defeated the defeated response. And that´s the battle I have to win if I am ever going to make for myself the life I want.