One of the things about writing day after day (after day after day) is that it has a tendency to wear down the defenses that you build up in trying to protect yourself as you write.
A couple of days ago, I saw a “How It’s Made” show on hand-axes. The blanks were formed in molds, then quenched in oil, and then a bunch of them were thrown into a tumbler for a while. The narration said that this “wore down the scale,” the rough covering that blanching and the molding process built up on the axes. (Then they were polished, ground, fitted with handles, polished again, and a bunch of other things that are relevant to axes but not really to writing.)
That wearing off of the scaling on the axes really struck a nerve with me. That’s how I feel, writing daily – I’m generally going through the motions (“What do I write about? Okay, what do I write? Is it long enough?”) and over time I’m getting tired of writing about writing, coldly and unfeelingly – and I’m trying to dig deeper into myself, such that I’m writing more about things that might just even matter to someone… including me.
That constant grind is wearing down the scale.
You find it in music, too: improvisation training takes place in short bursts, day after day, where you listen to older work (but not your most recent attempt at improvisation), such that you end up enduring a lot of repetition, even though your purpose is to avoid repetition. After a while, just like in writing, you get tired of playing the same things, even if you’re trying not to, and you start digging deeper, and start really reaching, musically. That’s when you start actually learning to improvise, when you can start finding out who you are as a musician.
I’m finding out a little more about who I am, not only as a writer, but as a person. I find that I hide well; I’m perfectly happy to throw up smokescreens about what’s important to me, and yet I want to be known and appreciated despite the camouflage.
I’m a Christian, but I tend to focus on fairly minor (secular) things, with a Christian coloration on occasion; with that said, I can occasionally reach for even Christian relevance (and hopefully achieve it.)
I’m a writer, but my writing is usually to an audience through a wall. I don’t betray anything serious, although I show what’s real – it’s filtered to hide my identity and core values. In a way, what I write is an actor’s portrayal of me.
That’s a little sad. I would hope that as a writer, Christian, and person, I continue to grow – and some day, who knows? Maybe I’ll tear down the walls I’ve built around myself and, knowing, be known as well.
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