My words don’t sang – they just sing… or so I’ve been told.
According to my partner in Un-edited crime, Andrea, my writing should read less Beyoncé and more Fantasia. (That’s one hell of a metaphor, right?) I should be flattered at the suggestion that someone believes I share stylistic similarities with (almighty) Queen Bey, but before anyone gets the idea that I’m feelin’ myself waaay too much, lemme explain – what she means is my writing mirrors the cool, calm and palpably controlled composure of your expected Beyoncé performance, but lacks the wild, shoe-flinging, damn near reckless abandon that takes place during a typical Fantasia show. Even though my heart may be caught in a fan, à la Bey’s bountiful Brazilian weave, my words always manage to hold it together so as to not truly expose the emotions brewing beneath the surface.
Bottom line is fancy designer prose, subject-verb agreement and generous use of metaphors may provoke a reader to nod in agreement or have a tempered two-step of a reaction, but they won’t make anyone jump up, shout or come anywhere close to sweating out their fresh perm. Writing is cathartic, but I don’t think there’s an author out there who doesn’t want to create work that makes a reader feel emotion.
So, why would a writer (or any other creative individual) hold back when expressing themselves?
This one’s self-explanatory and could range from being afraid to reveal personal truths, fear of being judged, fear of facing one’s true emotions, fear of not being able to fully execute an idea, fear of Beyoncé giving you a public side-eye for daring to compare yourself to her in a somewhat unflattering manner, and the list goes on…
Concern about offending others:
For example, I have a heartfelt rant in me about the recent rash of women who are hellbent on oversharing about their periods, but I’ve held back because I don’t want to offend anyone who might think I’m being oppressive or anti-feminist when I comment on the ludicrousness of free-bleeding for a cause or posting period blood on Instagram, not to mention how utterly disgusting it is to cook with your own vaginal yeast. (There, I said it.)
The impact of oversharing feels like a hangover that can strike at any given moment and ain’t no Alka-Seltzer-time machine combo that can ease the symptoms. It passes when it’s good and damn ready. Honestly, a lot of my personal essay pitches are collecting dust in a mental file because of a prior experience with sharing too many personal details in print (I’m still cringing, ugh). I considered this heavily when I wrote about my complicated relationship with my father because obviously I’m not the only one impacted by those words, but I wrote it out of emotional necessity. Fantasia’s father sued her for writing about him, so if my father happens to stumble upon what I’ve written and doesn’t like it, I guess I’ll prepare myself to hear the words, “You’ve been served.”
Not thinking your voice, thoughts or opinions matter:
I say this to myself as much as I say it to anyone else – your voice exists, therefore it matters, even if you’re the only one who believes that.
People can be mean and intentionally harsh towards those who willingly expose themselves with the world. That said, a part of me doesn’t blame Beyoncé one fucking bit for keeping her shoes on her feet. But constant self-censorship only keeps me stagnant and it also makes me feel a bit fraudulent being one-half of a site that promotes the loose and free usage of words, unfiltered thoughts and raw feelings.
I am certainly committed to being more transparent and true to my emotions when writing, but unlike Fantasia, I can’t promise I’ll let you see my feet.