Three years ago, I set up a wordpress.com account for the first time. I created a domain that was easy to remember—a name that I’d hoped would mean something to more than just my family one day—and sat down to write my very first blog post.
I failed. (I do that sometimes.)
I felt all this pressure of a new beginning, and at that time, I didn’t really have much experience with beginnings. At that point, I hadn’t yet moved across the country to face the unknown, I hadn’t yet lived alone in my own apartment, I hadn’t discovered my obsession with good coffee, and I hadn’t yet put my words and thoughts into the world for my family, friends, and strangers to read, digest, and ultimately [in my mind] judge.
So I changed the rules. (I do that sometimes, too.)
I decided that I would just start a little down the journey with a second blog post. I’d scrap the pressure and pretend I was already somewhat established. I turned my fear into [what I hoped] was wit, and just kind of went with it.
And then, I forgot what I’d set out to do for a long while, and just wrote whatever I wanted to write, second-blog-post-promises-be-dammed. I published without any real schedule, goal, or intent in mind. (I do this more often than not.)
Three years went by. Really. Three whole years.
I wrote some things in that time. I blogged a little. I failed a bit more. And I wrote a book. And the fear changed. It wasn’t gone, but it transformed to something I avoided writing about: what if I was wrong? Maybe I was wrong about a lot of things: being a writer, moving to Baltimore, love, but mostly, maybe I was wrong about knowing the things I thought I knew. Maybe I didn’t really know anything at all.
I absolutely was wrong about all the things I knew. I just didn’t know yet that it was okay to be wrong. It’s okay to have your world shaken up. Me being wrong didn’t mean I’d made mistakes, at least not in the sense that I should change or regret them.
Let me try it this way:
I think about all the things I’ve written on this tired, dented, dirty laptop since that first-I-mean-second-blog night. I reenter that memory, sitting cross-legged on our L-shaped couch next to my not-yet-dead dog and my what-is-a-blog?-father in the house none of us live in anymore. And I smirk. Young I think. For as young and naïve as I feel now, I was so much more so then.
And I had no idea.
I want to take the hand of cross-legged me and say,
“Hey Listen. I get that you’re worried.
I get that once you put things into the world, they can’t be unknown. The Internet is both awesome and terrifying like that. But just stop. Stop being afraid it’s going to suck. It’s absolutely going to suck!
You’re a baby writer. You’re not only a baby writer but you’re a baby person. Right now, you think you know heartbreak, you think you know loss, you think you know fear, and you even think you know mistakes. And maybe you do know versions of those.
But, Dude. It’s about to get real. It’s all about to get very real—a rollercoaster that will terrify and exhilarate you and will sometimes disguise itself as mundane. But this first blog post? Small potatoes. Dude, just say, ‘hey y’all, this is my first blog post. I don’t know what I’m going to write yet. But I know these three things: Sometimes it will be good. Sometimes it will be less good. But always, it will be honest.’
And then do that. Be honest. Because what else is worth saying?”
But time travel is still a few years off, and remembering that prideful-albeit-scared girl, she wouldn’t listen to me anyway. She has to go through it. Experience it. Reject it and experience it all again. I’ll leave her here along side my empty-plates and water-glass at this Lafayette coffee shop that holds no past for me except the one I’m now creating, and instead document something else:
I’ll record the conversation I had with my brother last night over sushi and cocktails about art and process and a need for perfectionism that runs rogue in our blood, wreaking havoc on contentment. I won’t wait until my words and syntax are perfect to start saying things.
I’ll start a brand new blog post, a retroactive first post with these three-years-in-the-making revisions:
It’s not been about the product; it’s always been about the process. Art is not being afraid of failing. It’s the culmination of being afraid to waste another minute not trying. It’s knowing that it could all end up being a pile of muck and pushing down the voice of perfectionism that says, “but what then have you accomplished?” It’s doing it anyway, prepared to answer, “a new starting point.”
I’m going to write about living imperfectly in a very temporary, also-imperfect world. Sometimes, the words and their order will be good. Quite good. Good in the sense that you connect with them. Other times, it will be pretty bad. It’ll seem like I didn’t have the appropriate coffee-to-word-count ratio, and you’ll wonder what you were supposed to think about that. Other times, you might laugh. Even if I didn’t mean you to.
But always, no matter what, you’ll get both that cross-legged girl and this version of me with the crawfish on her shirt and another one who doesn’t yet exist, the one I’m hoping, dreaming, praying to become.
Oh and pictures. I promise to include pictures. Because everyone likes pictures.