I didn’t often listen to my mother’s writing advice growing up. She was full of it, too. Jamming my eardrums with steps for five-paragraph essays (which I still loathe) and red-penning the crap out of my school papers.
She made time, almost every year, for a visit to my English class where she would, inevitably, tell me later that night over dinner that that boy over in the back corner? He seemed nice.
So I tuned most of her lessons out.
Except, it turns out, one of the most important ones: to write like I spoke.
Doesn’t it suck when Mom knows best?
Maybe, but it’s the reason I’ve been able to craft a place for myself in the blogging world. And the reason I latch onto other bloggers whose hearts beat faster when they hit publish on a new post.
We were not born to write so that our words could fill trashcans. We were not born to kill trees or waste ink or stuff envelopes with empty thoughts.
We write because we are human beings with voices and those voices sit inside us like dormant volcanoes ready to erupt when something strikes us passionately or fervently.
It’s that lack of selfness, that manufactured voice, that pains me when I read a blog post or a magazine article written with so little personality it nearly fades into the background.
You’re a blogger; you understand.
We fear voice because it is vulnerability in the biggest way. We fear having our fingers on the pulse of our wrists because the minute we know what we want to say and how we want to say it? We have to.
To write well, you’ve got to have at least an ounce of reckless abandon in you. You’ve got to let go of the constraints a bit. You’ve got to stop forcing square phrases and overused idioms into your paragraphs and start feeling exactly what you want your reader to feel.
You’ve got to leave a chunk of your heart on the page.
It’s a massive risk; I get that.
It’s like calling your best friend to tell her your boyfriend didn’t get into the same college as you and she’s like, “Suck it up, man. Life’s tough.”
(She’s allowed to say that eventually, but not in between your heaving sobs.)
Or she said, “Cool, so what do you think of this dress? Should I buy it?”
You don’t know how your readers will react — or if they’ll react at all.
So you totter along writing “dear diary” entries about the ice cream shop you discovered last Friday night and the boy in anatomy class you’d like to offer your body to demonstrate.
But you don’t let us taste the ice cream on our lips. We don’t get a brain freeze. Our fingers don’t go numb. Our heart rate doesn’t increase.
That’s all we want from you — to feel your humanness so deeply it yanks us into a time where sitting in front of a computer is akin to opening an encapsulating novel.
Gosh, we want to dream with you.
Let us? Please, please let us. We will become insomniacs for you.