Towards Vulnerability

This entry is part of my undertaking a 30-day challenge Matt Cutts talked about at TED2011. The premise is to “think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your life and try it for the next 30 days.” I am challenging myself to post one blog entry a day for 30 consecutive days.

Today is Day 1.

Why do you write?

I’ve been mulling over whether to take on this challenge of daily blogging for several days now. Before posting this entry, I had gone back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Why should I do this? Should I do this?

I remember a time I had also endeavored to start a Freewriting Series in this blog. Freewriting is a technique used by writers to generate ideas for a new project or help ease them out of writer’s block. It is done by starting with a blank page and, for 5-10 straight minutes, writing anything at all that comes to mind, without regard for coherence or relevance of ideas, spelling, grammar, punctuation, or any other tedious writing rule. The idea is to write without inhibitions. I wanted to be able to do that kind of writing, one that was “raw and enriching and healing and true.”

I didn’t even get past the second entry before I decided to drop the ball.

And do you know why I stopped?

Vulnerability.

See, when we write, or make a piece of art, and we put our work out there into the world, we hazard ourselves. It’s a slab of our hearts right there, and sometimes it feels like putting it right on the table for the dogs to ravage to bits. Not all writing should be like this, of course—but authentic writing has to be. And to me, there is no other worthy writing than authentic writing, no other worthy art than authentic art. And authenticity in these things is unmistakable when come across with, but definitely not easy to produce. You gotta be willing to scrape “close to the bone,” so to speak. And maaaan, does it hurt.

“Tell the story of it. Be ruthless. Tell it all, no matter how ugly it is. Feel what it’s like to write close to the bone. You never have to share this with anyone. It’s your choice. But for the sake of everything that you’ll eventually write, you need to feel what it’s like to say the hard things, to lay oneself open, to be honest and direct. Don’t wait. Do it now.” ~ Lee Martin, Close to the Bone: Writing Family Secrets

Why do you write?

What do you write about?

Do you dare write close to the bone?

Anne Lamott said, “Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don’t worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act — truth is always subversive.”

I want to be able to write toward vulnerability, and given the recent events in my life and where I’m going, I think I need to. But I’ve always been afraid to be vulnerable. I mean, who isn’t, right? Nevertheless, I feel like this has been a bigger battle for me than for most. There is grace in the breaking, I know that. But sometimes it’s just too damn hard.

Maybe writing for 30 days straight will help me, maybe not.

Maybe I’ll stop after the second entry.

Maybe I won’t even get past this entry.

All I know is that this heart needs someplace to be soft. I could try asking the world to be gentle with it, but that might not be making me any favors. Authenticity presented demands authenticity given back.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to risk it. ♦

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9 thoughts on “Towards Vulnerability

  1. “Truth is always subversive.” (Yes.)

    And I know t’s scary to write from it, but it is often the most powerful stuff. How about I do it — with you? 🙂 We do this challenge simultaneously? *I’m scared too.

    But we both – know – this is the crossroads. Go in, or duck behind a mask.

    Liked by 1 person

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