I am an analog girl in a digital world. I have the grandmotherly habit of curling up under a blanket I crocheted myself, cup of herbal tea in hand, with a paper copy of the New Yorker that I read cover to cover. I have more trouble getting through a poorly written 200-word blog post than I do a 10-page profile of Rory Stewart, for whom I don’t particularly care. Google has not made me stupid.
I waited till 2010 to join Facebook, just when it started going out of style with its byzantine privacy controls. I have 75 “friends.” I think only about 20 of them really care about me and those 20 people often call me on the telephone.
I also joined Twitter, though it feels to me like standing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange – lots of shouting and unintelligible hand signals, and I don’t understand how anyone makes money from it. As I write this, there are 11 people following me and I have no idea what to say to them. #Awkwardsilence.
It is, then, an unexpected development that I would start a blog.
As a child, I always said I wanted to be a writer. Somewhere along the way, however, I realized that when you write something, people read it and a lot of the time, a lot of those people don’t like it at all. On the web, they can even tell you sort of to your face that they think what you wrote sucks. This scared me. Scares me. I stopped showing anybody anything I ever wrote.
The thing is, nobody pays you to be an imaginary writer. I had to find a situation.
I went to graduate school, thinking I could perhaps become an academic, which involves a lot of writing. You become part of a little community of people who are interested in the topic you are writing about and maybe they will disagree with your argument, but the writing is well-documented, supported by footnotes and bibliographies, and not reliant merely on the mind’s vagaries.
Unfortunately, being an academic also involves a lot of talking, sometimes talking nervously in front of a pompous jackass who’s reading the newspaper and seems slightly amused that you have turned bright red and are sweating profusely. I’m scared of public speaking even more than I am of letting people see something I wrote. Fear scrapped the academic road, too.
So I buried any writerly or otherwise intellectual ambitions and found my situation. I became a professional, as in a person who works in an office and exchanges the use of not-stupid brain cells for money. It’s a lot better than it sounds. I worked for an alternative energy company that does something good for the world. It was challenging, I learned a lot about engineering and I had fun writing concise Powerpoints and meeting minutes. I’m not even being sarcastic. I got paid to not speak in public and be respected by my colleagues. Totally sweet deal.
As my twenties came to an end and the safe feeling of youth that there is plenty of time for everything vanished, I slowly eased into the idea that if I wanted to write, I should just go ahead and do it. I never stopped composing sentences in my head and jotting observations down on napkins, so maybe I should put my strings of words out there. I left my situation to travel the world for awhile, and maybe part of my re-situation could be a bit of writing.
I have pirouetted in front of hundreds of strangers, hurtled myself backwards down rocks trusting in a little bolt to keep me alive, slept on the couches of people I’ve only just met, eaten duck bills and lamb brains and jellyfish, moved to countries where I don’t have enough last names and plenty of other things that would scare the tar out of most people.
Yet there, staring me in the face, was that little blue button: PUBLISH.
More sweating, more blushing. publish. publish. PUBLISH. I can’t I can’t I can’t. Click. It’s done.
Now that I’ve done it, I don’t know what took me so long. It’s surprisingly easy to hit “Publish” when you are the only person who reads your blog. I’m full of trepidation that by entering Ms. DeRoche’s little contest, somebody besides me might click.
So 2013 marks the beginning of my fearful adventure: blogging. Or, more specifically, opening up the possibility that someone besides me might read my strings of words.
I’ll be here talking to myself until further notice.
This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.
“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press
“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.” Nomadicmatt.com
“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail