irrational dreams

Last night I dream that I was in Beirut. Little papers fluttered from the sky all of a sudden. They looked so sweet and tender. I went to the ones which had fallen and pulled out my camera. As I took photos of them sprawled across the pavement, I noticed they had some writing. In big letters it read:

‘Bombs are coming. Run’

I think we all know where my brain is at a month before I embark on the trip I’ve been waiting for my whole life. For the first time I’ll be visiting the place of my ancestry, the country of my grandparents.

I’m so excited, nervous and completely irrational all at once.

Ira Glass on Creativity

At first, the idea behind starting an anonymous blog came about in order to learn and grow as a writer. For me I’ve always known that this blog was meant to be more than that. It has political undertones and ‘revolution’ in the name. Naturally I wanted to build it up to be something more, but always knew that this would take time and patience. I know of the importance to first  establish yourself as a writer, developing your own unique style and voice. You need to be okay with making mistakes. You need to stay in the habit of writing as often as possible. You know intrinsically that what you’re doing isn’t perfect but that’s the beauty of it. It’s raw and on the edge, tumbling and convalescing down rocky mountains, hoping to get better as you go along.

Recently I found myself experiencing a bit of drama when somebody I highly respected in the creative industry thought it would be a fun little side project to make jokes about my blog in front of our friends. The running joke was about how I simply ‘live blogged everything that happened to me’, rather than writing the best personal essays I could possibly write in the small half hour windows available to me, the full time employee. Often these are not ‘live’ at all but rather nostalgic and reflective.

What I’ve learned is how important it is to be taken seriously by your peers and mentors, something I was clearly struggling with. It doesn’t help when people reduce you to cliches and stereotypes, simply because they’re too antiquated to understand blogging and social media and how these are differentiated. I found it even more insulting when, upon being asked if this person read my blog, they replied that they had not, despite having commented on an article already and feeling confident enough make a running joke out of it. I was interrogated about my motives for the blog and what I expected to gain from it, all under the slightly patronising tone that it would probably not lead to anything anyway. I would imagine most people struggle to discuss their most passionate and personal endeavours with anyone, let alone at a wild and rowdy group dinner, but here we were, putting it all out on the table (literally) and leaving a mark on my already vulnerable writing self esteem.

I shouldn’t have taken those words to heart but I did. I shouldn’t have read into the subtle insinuations or even cared what other people thought. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me (or that I wasn’t dealing with other personal issues that were also being brought up). I let it beat me down a little and didn’t feel like writing anything.

Then I read this article about learning to make something and taking years to be good at it and stumbled upon this awesome quote from Ira Glass. I think people underestimate how sensitive professional writers can be around their writing. This isn’t just something we do. It’s an expression of who we are. To take a cheap stab at it is to essentially take a cheap stab at the writer too.

I think it’s important to have positive, useful and encouraging mentors in your life, there to tell you all the things most accomplished creatives couldn’t be bothered passing on, now that they’ve already tasted the bitterness of their own success. Stay away from the bitter ones. Rush head first towards the light of positivity and empowerment. Be imperfect. And write, write, write until you get good.

Some lovely words of advice from This American Life’s Ira Glass:

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Thank you for reading this blog and for supporting me in my tiny endeavours. I cannot truly articulate my gratitude with mere words (I know, the irony!)