The Bottom Line
By John R.Greenwood
|A prized possession, a writer's box from my sister Joanne|
Whenever I'm writing and I struggle for words I always lower the bucket to the bottom of the well and pull up whatever's there. It's been that way since my first blog post. In fact, I have this thing I like to do. When I stumble across a blog I like I often dig my way to the beginning and read the very first post the person wrote. Many times I will leave a comment wishing them well. I know they will get an alert letting them know someone was at the door and left a message on it. I am always curious about what initiated that first post and what made the person finally share it with the world. Was it a life changing event? Was it therapy, or to vent? Was it to teach or to tickle? In my case it was all of the above but the final nudge came when my father passed away. For some reason I never felt I was myself when my parents were alive. I was always the son, which meant I needed to behave the right way. In no way am I saying that was a bad thing. Parents want their children to do good things. They want them to be polite and respectful. They want them to be successful and happy. The problem for me was everything I did had that notation at the bottom. What will my mother and father think? It's not as though anything I would write or share would hurt or embarrass them its the simple fact that it would always be my first thought. The first thought would need to go through customs first to be sure it didn't have any contraband stuffed between the words. It's similar when it's a spouse, relative or friend but it's never exactly the same as when it's your parents. They are the reason you're here and for many the power they hold over us lasts a lifetime and beyond. What I write and what I do with is now just me(mostly?).
This post, "The Bottom Line" was written more as a suggestion for others who are just beginning to share stories or thoughts on a blog or anywhere else. I'm not telling you you shouldn't worry about who's affected by things you write or how they will interpret it, I'm telling you to be yourself. In my case I run from confrontation like a kid from a spider. The most nail biting controversy on this blog probably involves a sarcastic remark in a retail setting. But that's me. I'm not James Dean, I'm Garrison Keillor. I'm not Meet The Press, I'm American Pickers. I'm not oil and vinegar, I'm milk and cookies. I don't care to push boundaries but I do want to explore them.
A friend of mine who is an excellent writer and loves political debate once asked if I would be interested in writing articles for an online periodical he was looking to launch. He said he didn't like what was out there. He said everyone's afraid of saying what's really on their mind. He said nobody wants to do any real reporting these days, everyone's afraid to speak up. He wanted Erin Brockovich, I was Mr. Rogers. He said I don't want something filled with fluff. I said I'm sorry, fluff is what I do. I want to entertain with a smile or a tear not a fist pound or a finger point. That's who I am and it took me a half a dozen decades to say it to the person in the mirror. I'm that person who doesn't care that you took my parking space. I'll find another one and I'll sleep like a rock tonight. I don't have any fight left in me because there was never much there to begin with.
Don't get me wrong, I admire my alter egos. I love the Mike Wallace's, Roseanne's and Jon Stewart's of the world. I don't do good taking sides unless it involves injustice or abuse. Then I can get ugly. My biggest problem is I don't have too many problems. You do your thing, I'll do mine.
When it comes to writing, dig to the bottom, don't over think it because self doubt will kick in and the next thing you know you're sitting there with your head in your hands going, "Why do I do this?". Right now I'm beginning to question this piece and whether it makes any sense. I wonder what triggered it and if it's even worth sharing, or should I just hit delete. I have things I've written that never see the light of day because I stall in traffic and don't know what to do with them. These are roadblocks we all face, only with different names on different days.
Write from the inside out. When the words come slow remember to peel away the heavy layers of doubt. In the end it doesn't much matter what you say, what matters most is not to remain silent. Whether you speak on paper, with a guitar, or with a paint brush remember to speak. There's always someone listening somewhere.