The technology that we use for communication may have radically changed and advanced during my lifetime but we still facing the perpetual problem of what to say. How to you know what to say when? Is it easy to come up with something to talk about or to make conversation for you?
I don’t find it easy. I’m virtually a social phobic but my stubborn streak prevents me letting it take over my life, I have a certain pride in keeping appearances and putting a brave face on things. I hate to talk, I never know what to say, I agonise over saying the wrong thing, I get so easily embarrassed. But I try not to ever let it show. My so-called coping strategies mean that I can often even come across as being a good conversationalist. I’ve learnt to draw people out because I hate talking about myself, I’ve learnt how to put people at ease because I know how I’m feeling myself, there are so many ways that my challenges actually put me to an advantage.
But I still struggle.
I still worry about making an idiot of myself.
That holds me back.
Especially when I’m writing, I fear making mistakes. The kind of mistakes that everyone else will see immediately but you can never see yourself, no matter how many times you proof your words. I’m paranoid. I try to hide too that I struggle with the written word. I even taught myself script handwriting from the back of a literacy manual so that my handwriting doesn’t give me away. I don’t use biro either for the same reason.
Words give you away.
Words are much more than just words. They say a lot about the speaker or writer too.
Sometimes that’s too much for me.
I’m scared of giving too much away.
I hide behind masks.
But still get claustrophobic.
Writing, loving to write made me weird. It wasn’t cool, it wasn’t even normal.
I also had to accept that I wasn’t really any good at it.
So I gave up.
The words, the writing got suppressed within me.
I’m used to having my head whirling with ideas. This new improved dosage has given me back a lot more creativity too; I dream stories rather than fight nightmares in Escher-like landscapes.
Writing was something that was meant to come easily to a writer, or so I thought. Not only did it have to come easily but also had to come ‘good’. The quality had to be there from the start. No one ever thought to tell me that most writers spend years honing their craft or that, apart from in the novels, writers rarely produce a perfect first manuscript that makes their name as a published author.
No, writing is apparently like any other skill. It can come naturally to you but you still have to develop it. You have to grow in ability, honing that skill, perfecting it (even if perfection isn’t actually achievable). Writing needs training, exercise, practice, experience.
You’re not meant to get it right first time.
No one told me that.
So I humbly gave up.
But the words, the writing still comes.
I don’t if I have what it takes, I struggle to express myself and, I have to admit, I struggle with language and words. I can only get so far; I had the reading ability of a twelve-year-old when I was six. That was great. But the problem is that I still do. I peaked early, misleading people into thinking that I was gifted. And my literacy was good enough to hide my (significantly worse) numeracy problems.
There are words that I can still not remember how to say properly. I now go for a deliberate course of mispronunciation of a variety of words and place names so I can hide when I do actually make a mistake, opting for idiosyncrasy rather than admitting my problems. I always read place-boh, super-flu-us, amby-vale-ent. I’m likely to say them like that too. It embarrasses me. I can’t say words like py-jamas either. Well, I’m getting better at that one, I have to think very carefully about it first then say it slowly and deliberately. It tends to come out as juh-mahmas. Not cool. Not grown up. Not right.
I hate making mistakes.
Making mistakes is failure, right?
Should I be ashamed of myself?
Just because I struggle, does that mean I should give up writing?
And when it comes to writing, how do you know when you’ve got it right?
Only when you get published?
I don’t know. The world has changed a lot. There’s blogging now, you probably know about that.
So I think I’m going to try to keep writing, my confidence is in a very new and surprising place at the moment and I don’t quite trust that, but I love words and the words keep coming. Maybe I can keeping work on my weaknesses, maybe the mistakes don’t really matter after all. I’m doing what I love, what I have always loved even before I knew the alphabet, so that has to count for something.
Just promise me that you’ll tell me when I make a mistake, yes?