Squarespace has requested I "Write here" sooo, shall do.
My last blog post was in May of 2017. I think it is mission critical for me to look under a few rocks today. Examining what is not so much a case of writer's block, as writer's avoidance. A dance away from a habit that used to bring me life. (I apologize in advance for what could be a very boring post for you to read, but an illuminating one for me to write.)
I started blogging before many people were blogging. My platform was "Blogger / Blogspot," the font settings and layout looked like they belonged on a cereal box, and when my mom read my work she expressed mild exasperation at what I was putting out there on the internet (eating disorder recovery stories, dating nightmares, deep feelings, oh my!).
I promised her it was tame compared to where things were headed. It was 2009, eight years ago, when I was 32. I was right.
The pull I felt to write in my 30s was similar to the pull I felt to read my heart out in my 20s. As I recall, reading saved my life. I had started college majoring in biology and pre-med. After developing an eating disorder and major depression with enough anxiety to power a small plane, I ultimately found refuge in writers who somehow triumphed over darkness. Give me all the identity politics, stories of overcoming adversity, and tales about survival that cut straight to the core. Give me the darkly funny.
When it came to writing, I never really thought of myself as one even though I was doing it to pretty positive effect once I left the orgo lab behind. I would pull essays out of me that literally felt like they passed through me without effort. I started to write poems, short stories and eventually monologues, then I started to perform those. In the early 2000s. Before all shit went onto the internet.
Into my 30s I went, and with this blogging platform I was taking all sorts of risks without the backing of a publisher. I never sought to build an audience or land a book deal. I just wrote what I needed to express at the time , even as I did not understand WHY I needed to express myself to strangers. I never pulled mass numbers and page views, but I did get into the thousands, which felt pretty good. Then the personal emails came and I felt so grateful my words were landing. I had a very loyal old lady reader from Florida. We never met but she loved my blog. Said I reminded her of her daughter, so she emailed me from time to time to make sure I was OK and tell me about her husband who had died. I wonder if she is OK now, it's been years.
I tried to steer clear of the kind of writing that would sound like life coaching. That said, I give a good pep talk and eventually posted to inspire, to motivate, to heal. With a side hustle in fitness, it became something of an extension of that work, too. Looking back, I know why that did not grow bigger: I was still struggling with my own mental health and eating disorder. I didn't want to pressure myself to be a shining example of an evolved woman, someone to emulate, nor did I really want to deep dive and share about my battles or "problems" that in my 30s had left me ashamed. I was kind of in the middle. I didn't feel well enough to lead or courageous enough to share it all.
Maybe if I embraced that middle and written from there, it would have moved my own recovery and evolution along sooner.
I got extremely lucky one night in February 2011. I had just completed my first short play called Suspended, which was staged at the Richmond Shepard Theater New Works Festival. The theater was on 2nd Avenue in the 20s, and true to form I had left my prop bag stashed backstage for at least a month after the show closed. One winter night, I (finally) went back to get my bag of costumes and props. In the lobby stood a beautiful and VERY FIT woman selling tickets to her show, which was starting in half an hour. Her name was Adyana and she talked up this collection of short plays, all original, you'l laugh you'll cry, I had to stay! I did.
After witnessing the work of Ticket 2 Eternity Productions, I later joined that theater company and ended up finding refuge in writing and performing in plays. Those years were excelllllent for my writer, and not only because Adyana would call (or email) and ask me to write plays, but because I had this sweet, tight-but-not-too-tightly-knit-group of theater artists, many of whom also shared my growing commitment to fitness and health. I had a little bubble inside which I could take a good amount of risks with my work. Feeling safe is everything for a creative.
I started to prefer writing fiction, the kind of plays that were spinning my own true tales with new ones that my imagination generated, sometimes in my sleep. I started to find my voice as an actor, too, great moments with my comedy, poignant ones expressing raw vulnerability, the steps in the direction of my truest expression. I felt very good about what I was doing, until something changed.
*I am writing this very stream-of-consciousness post without editing and may ultimately revise, but here is my theory: Instagram and Facebook, both its insane increase in popularity and my response (join, engage, share, update, post, comment, delete, watch, sit back but do NOT relax while watching the timelines of other people's lives) destroyed my writer.
Now, I am quite brainy by nature and can get a bit intricate. In this case, I will keep it simple. ONE: It has pulled my focus. TWO: It has filled me with intense emotions ranging from joy and love to envy and self pity, none of which I have used to further my writing. THREE: It has actually pulled my voice. I've given my voice to updates and other social media experiments that would normally be for either my old blog post or a character I was writing. FOUR: It has shaping how we think, communicate, and ultimately, connect. So much to the extent that I feel stifled and often feel I can't quite hear myself. I hear the cultural social media conversations. FIVE: It often fills my brainspace up. What used to be a vacuum for ideas now feels like a stuffed treasure chest of toys that aren't even mine.
All of this compounded with the theater company I was in disbanding (for good reason, life goes on and love you T2E!), my day job of the last three and a half years ultimately taking over my life (but no longer since my recent resignation) and more deeply, a fear of continuing to write the work that is most personal, meaningful, has left me to abandon my craft. My sweet, beautiful, profound, often shockingly illuminating craft. The craft that means the most to me (and grandmas in Florida) but also to some of you, and potentially, more of you if I actually continue.
So that is today's arrival. I can cry for lost time. I do. I am. I suppose we all have moments where we wonder why we wasted so many that came before, and then question if we have the strength to go forward. For me, writing is life or death. Without it, I shrivel into myself and my thoughts become what feel like boomerangs. When I write, they feel more like arrows and when I REALLY write, those arrows start to find targets.
There are so many matters of the heart. My journey has brought me into my 40s. I actually feel so much shame writing that, still, as if I am supposed to be younger and did something wrong by aging. What a ridiculous thought, it's sooo, oh man, it's just ridiculous. Dear World, I am sorry I hit 40 and botox is still cost prohibitive for me and my fair, freckled skin. I am sorry I can't afford Cryogenics (is that what it's called?) and I am REALLY sorry I don't yet have 20K followers on Instagram, a hot husband, or adorbs child. I haven't accrued enough milestones. I didn't peak like I thought I would. That is the apology my Ego thinks it owes the world. And this, this is why I have a spiritual practice, amazing friends, a program of recovery and therapy. :)
It is also why I write.
Whenever I feel thought trains like that leave the station, I come back to myself and the written word, in all its anonymity, from the depths of INNER spaces, to the place that is home. My voice doesn't age. It matures. My spirit doesn't wrinkle as I write. It expands like a fucking chia pet. My heart KNOWS from its depth that I don't owe anyone an apology for anything. It also knows the importance of love and connection, which, when I settle down and settle in I could feel against the backdrop of my solitude.
I come back to myself and the written word for me.
We are constantly negotiating relationships to ourselves and others, figuring out what feels safe to share. How much. How soon. We run when things get close and I am certain the times I've avoided the page has to do with fear of being seen. It almost always does. It is a risk we take again and again, this revealing who we really are to anyone besides ourself. For me, it still feels like the truest forms of intimacy come from the oldest school of ways. Pen to paper. Eye to eye. Heart to heart. #unfiltered
Thank you for reading. xo, LBD
An addendum: There are many VALUABLE things about being on social and I will discuss that at another time. I'm not just saying that, I really will discuss it and I really do love some of what happens in the vortex that is social media connecting!! You can follow me on Instagram @lindsaybdavis__ where I am having a LOT of fun with you dropping inspirational F bombs, making dance videos, singing and Boomeranging with my dog, Charlie. He's on Insta too @cedinnyc but it's not disrupting his commitment to fetch.