158 Drafts

Personal / Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

I am a writer who struggles to self-identify as a writer. I’ve never felt deserving of the moniker and while there’s a lot to unpack in there, let’s just vaguely say that I am slowly getting better.

A side effect of this lack of confidence is a lot of writing that never sees the light of day. And while that’s totally normal for a writer, I think that that really depends on context. There are early drafts of a single piece of work that don’t get shown to everyone else. The shitty first draft, or the ‘puke’ draft where you just dump all the words, every thought onto the page to just get it there. Writing is rewriting as they say. You have to start. Editing is much easier than generation anyway.

I don’t mind that the earlier versions of much of my fiction work don’t exist beyond my eyes, but my blog posts are a different story. These are stories about me. While I of course put effort into everything I write, I value this blog as a sandbox primarily for myself. A physical journal on my nightstand is the purest version of myself to exist…outside of myself, but a blog is a fun exercise in the projection of oneself. In the age of the ‘personal brand’ there is a value in being able to find and accurately convey ones tone and self via words. The way I write on here isn’t what my academic voice sounds like. The me that writes about animation is a blend of the casual me here and said academic voice. Work me talks differently than she emails than she IMs people. We contain so many voices that reflect the facets of ourselves, the environments and people we’re surrounded by. None of this is new.

It’s just a little frustrating for me that I’ve set this blog up, carved out this tiny little hole on the Internet and I’m too afraid to use it. That I don’t feel worthy of my own space, and to use my own voice (or, the closest to me me).

On this WordPress, which I’ve had since 2014, I have 80 posts published (this will be post 81), and 158 drafts. That is, 158 completely separate, often fully realized posts. Completed thoughts written down that may need a little massaging but more or less could be published as-is.

Ironically, that very first post addresses this very issue. There are probably quite a few posts of those 80 that catalog this apparently permanent struggle of mine. My first post is called “Overdue” and here it is in its entirety, reproduced below (with permission from the author of course, hur hur):

For almost six years, I have longed to become a much more proficient writer. Similarly, it is one of my goals to become what many would consider a valid, valuable, and respected voice in the field of animation and computer graphics.
Day after day, year after year, I talked myself out of doing something as simple as starting a blog, not feeling secure with putting myself out into the Internet, nor confident that my opinions would ever carry any weight in the future.
It makes me uncomfortable, and that’s why I need to try.

Me on my bullshit (Overdue)

Six years before that, I wanted to start. While I think there’s a silver-lining to someone so young NOT having a voice on the Internet while said voice and person-hood are still under construction (OK, we’re all constantly under construction, but more so as youths). As much as I wanted to start a YouTube channel about animation back in 2010, I probably spared myself a lot of embarrassment. But I also might have missed out on some fun opportunities. Alas, we can only let the thought spirals of regret keep us occupied (and bitter) for so before our minds need to focus on the present.

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if any of those other ‘woe is me’ posts ever made it onto the actual blog. They might still be in draft purgatory. I GUESS I’LL FIND OUT. There are some posts that I think are just going to get the boot. Topical ones like top films. But who knows, maybe not.

Briefly skimming the titles, I can see that many of them were attempts at deeper subject matter, more personal essays. Things that could ruffle people’s feathers. Thoughts on gender, race, ya know, the most friendly places on the internet!

It’s long overdue, but I am finally reading Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist, and I owe it to her for this. Her frank, terse, whip-smart writing, and the range of topics in her book are what inspired me to look into this. I want to write essays, yeah, about animation, but also about life. My life. That sounds so pretentious though, doesn’t it?

For school we have to write an artist statement and let me tell you, fam, I am struggling. I’m actually working on a post about it for Animation Complex, but even then I was like, “Oh, is this too personal? Maybe I shouldn’t, or maybe I should publish it on the personal blog instead.” And like. Why am I overthinking this stuff? As much as I have big plans for Animation Complex, part of the appeal (I hope) is that people are interested in my opinions and experiences, or else I’d have made an objective news site. So you can subscribe to my newsletter over there so you know when that post is out! #plug

Reflecting as I type, I guess a lot of the hesitation is how much to share on the internet and how much would come back to bite me. I don’t mean saying disparaging things and then facing appropriate consequences. But just…other things. My resume is on here. Is a recruiter going to read this, or read about a post about periods or even just a video game or a fun trip to a museum and that somehow, consciously, subconsciously, and unconsciously negatively impact things? Do I need to censor myself? Use a pseudonym? I’ve missed out on promotions before because of my writing. This is a thing that has *actually* happened to me. In hindsight, I should have taken action (and I did to an extent) but even then I didn’t want to stir the pot and be a bother. Or have it further negatively impact me.

Roxanne Gay, in one of her essays, talks about when she first started teaching, and when her students found her writing online. Gay is an author who writes about anything and everything in her life. Nothing is off limits. So for a student (even one in college) to suddenly know certain intimate details about a professor….well, I imagine can be a little awkward for both parties. I think the right students can appreciate the teacher as a writer and someone to learn from, but there’s that difference in knowing someone. Or rather, there’s an understand that we will only ever know certain sides of certain people in certain ways. And this experience broke that unspoken (but understood) rule of life. It’s like when you’re in grammar school and you see a teacher at the grocery or Target for the first time and realize that they are a human outside of school. You kid mind is blown as you start to realize the complexity in you exists in others. Slowly, facets take shape.

The moral of the story here is I’m going to do what I want. I need to relearn to trust my instincts and I do feel that when I take the time to listen I navigate things decently. That, or we can just say I’m throwing caution to the wind and need to learn to swim before I drown! What a risk taker I am! Publishing blog posts whenever I want! The audacity!

Let’s all channel our inner Mary McCarthy’s and write dangerously.

Relatively speaking, of course.

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