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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Wednesday
Sep022009

Letting Go Of The Thing

You can argue with me all you want and I won't come around! Or maybe I will, I am highly persuadable. But really I don't think one can learn how to write. It's just a thing some people have and some people don't. It's been a long time kidding myself, but I don't have The Thing. Oh sure, I can string words together and form coherent thoughts and occasionally I rise up and craft a mighty paragraph or two but I can't write like this. Thing about that? Dude goes for, like, three years without writing more than a grocery list and although his grocery lists are extensive, that he can whip up shit like this and this after a several year hiatus is indicative of something. Namely, some people have it, some people don't. I married Hot Music Guy, turns out he's also better at my thing than I am.

Fuckface.

It's hard to shred away the pride I have in writing and get to the cold, hard bone of it all. I am average. My husband's ex-girlfriend once rudely labeled me "a mediocre writer, at best". It amused me, yes, but it also stuck with me. Because, notwithstanding her malicious intent, I think she was right. I can write conversationally, I think, but I don't have The Thing. And I don't think The Thing can be learned. It is the way a mind works and you can't unlearn the way you see things. Perception. Your mind is what it is and no time spent behind a desk sponge-sucking what some wannabe-writer-cum-teacher says can change that. Sentence structure, story crafting, proper grammar, metaphors, similes; I've never put much stock in that shit anyway. When you peel all that away, what's left? You, the essence of you, the writer. And you either have it or you don't. Someone like me could certainly improve over time and there is definitely a place in the world for writers of all kinds, but I'll never have The Thing. Strange the way it works. People get books published and don't have The Thing. People don't get books published and have The Thing. Room for everyone, but ain't everyone getting paid.

If this post seems like an indulgence in self-flagellation, a shameful attempt at compliment gathering, it's not. I'm just coming to terms with certain aspects of my life. Writing is a hobby and all my fancy britches yammering in the past to the contrary is just that. Yammering. Wishful thinking. And there's nothing necessarily wrong with that except for when I bought into my own hype.

Serge doesn't really read blogs like I do. He doesn't believe in knowing what others are doing and comparing, he wants to throw what he's got out there and let it go. That's incredibly brave, to not lick your finger and stick it in the wind, you know? Maybe his bravery is a luxury he can afford what with all the innate talent gushing out of his ears. I'm sure he pisses innate talent and blows innate talent out of his nose too, the bastard. Anyway, perhaps those of us that aren't as confident like to poke around and see what folks are up to, glean a little of this and sample a little of that. But I think Serge is right. If you want to roll with your own style you just gotta go with it. Just lob your big, sweaty offering right into the mix and see what happens. If nothing else, you're original.

At work today Manager McManagerson asked me why I have this incredible need to write about so many personal aspects of my life. Pants-shitting was mentioned. The domestic disturbance was brought up. Why do I disseminate such personal information to virtual strangers? Do I want attention? Maybe. But my gut response is always to error on the side of TMI.

Why?

I guess I've just always felt like everybody tries to be something they're not, pretends to be better than they are. This is natural, we all do it. It's instinct to present your best side. But that always makes me feel like shit, you know, when people pretend to be better than they are. I don't like fake and have felt ashamed of myself when I front. Comes from taking the sacrament every Sunday with a bunch of other pretenders when I was growing up. Can't we just let it all hang out and be who we are without feeling self-conscious or less than? It's kind of become policy here at The Girl Who and it's the one thing I do pride myself on; I may not have The Thing but at least I can be honest. Mostly I just want to relate with others, I think. Emotional validation. I am drawn to honest, self-deprecating folks when it's their genuine personality and not a carefully choreographed routine designed to garner compliments. I want somebody else to be able to read what I write and commiserate or laugh in an I've-SO-been-there kind of way. I'd really like to get better at writing but I wonder if its possible. I am what I am. It is what it is.