Neil Gaiman made a very inspiring speech on creativity not too long ago. You can find it here. I’ve talked about it before, but I’ve had a couple people point something out to me that reminded me of that speech, and I’d like to address it.
I’ve been told that my honesty – my ability to write frankly about my life – is admirable. That I wear my heart on my sleeve. This blog is read by my friends, and my family. It posts on my social media outlets, and I make zero effort to hide it from those I love. I even showed my mother- and father-in-law how to follow it via email since they don’t have WordPress accounts. And still, I talk about things like my fear my husband – their son – will not want to procreate with me due to my physical appearance. There are things I won’t talk about, of course. Friends talk to me in confidence, and I would never presume to write about their experiences without their consent, and naturally family matters that might affect the lives of those I love. I won’t write about those things.
My life, however, has been – and still is – interesting, exciting, and challenging, and I sincerely hope through my honesty, someone – even just one person – finds a little peace of mind; a little insight. In today’s world of social media, posting selfies, pictures of food, and cats, my own little corner of the internet is “sharing” in a different way, and I’m ok with that. All the things I write about are pieces of me. Sure, someone might try to use my mental illness to discriminate against me, but given my talents, my skills, and my work ethic, I don’t think that’s that much of a big deal. Besides, if I get into self-publishing, who’s going to discriminate against me? Myself?
The line that the comments on my honesty reminded me of occurs late in the speech. It is as follows:
“The moment that you feel that just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself, that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
Perhaps Mr. Gaiman didn’t necessarily mean I speak publicly about my experiences with mental illness. Perhaps he didn’t mean be honest about your own life. Then again, life influences art in so many ways, why not? I find that as I become more free with words about myself, I am more free in my writing elsewhere. I lose the fear I associate with being creative. That is, the fear of judgement. Others will judge me, certainly, but if I am proud of my work, and if I can stand behind it knowing that I have put all of myself into it, and knowing that I have been honest to my audience, and provided for them something they could relate to, those negative judgments don’t scare me so much. At least I know they are judgments upon something I have endeavored to create, rather than something I have attempted to hide, and failed.