I don’t write much anymore. And for that I could say I’m sorry. But in truth I’m not.
Is it that I’ve run out of things to write about? Probably not.
Do I care less than I used to? I don’t think it’s that either.
Maybe I just tolerate a little more and react a little less. I’m pretty sure that’s just wishful thinking.
But still it continues…
And when I stop to think about it (and I mean really stop and think about it), then I often arrive at this conclusion:
Other’s perception of me, and its impact on my self image, at least in a larger ‘professional’ context, frightens the bloody-hell out of me.
Of course, this sort of thing happens to writers all the time – often after some commercial success. The legendary case of ‘writer’s block’.
That’s a nice way of naming and dealing with the issue, but I’m not not up for taking a walk on Beale or listening to Mural’s piano playing every time it happens.
If only it were that easy.
But I get it. The more you get known for ‘what you do’ the more the doubts creep in about ‘who you are’.
Amplified to eleven. And that’s one louder remember.
But for me that’s not quite the reason either.
Here’s what I think it might be.
The further you progress in your career, the harder it is to take issue with things you once did. To discuss subjects that you once were openly opinionated about. To show things you’ve created to a wider audience. Because somewhere along the line, you’ve been forced to give up a value or conviction, that another, greener version of yourself might have fought tooth and nail over.
You’ve had to compromise for the sake of ‘getting things done’ or ‘going to bed at a reasonable hour’. You’ve had to realise that things are rarely perfect, and frankly the first time you found that out it sucked.
And you know what else? The more it continues, the worse it gets.
You end up doubting your convictions more and more. What you once would have said or done, however honest and well meaning, now seemingly needs to be more…
Measured. Restrained. Controlled. Edited. Refined.
Perhaps unknowingly, you’ve started to create a strategy for conversation. You’ve created a strategy for social media. Hell, you’ve created a strategy for everything you do. Just in-case you’re called out or questioned.
Best to get the guards up early right?
And slowly, day–by–day, piece–by–piece, you become an alternate version of yourself. Perhaps you don’t even notice it happening.
This version of you is known by more people (and ‘knows’ more people) than you will ever really know. You’ve constructed a personality, existing on a set emotional plain, expressing everything from mundane, to the heart-warming, to the hilariously funny. Best leave out the other parts though, just in-case.
And this pseudo persona will live on long after you’re gone. A small pocket of yourself that represented you as a whole.
As of right now, and forever after, you’re creating a digital legacy that will define who you were and what you did. Or rather, who relative strangers thought you were; And believed about what you did.
And sometimes it scares me as to which version of me others believe I am, and which one version I might be leaving behind.
And this is why I don’t write much anymore.
by Pete Coles — @fatelvis