Don’t Be Emily Dickinson


Why haven’t I posted, ask the two people (probably my parents) reading this blog? There’s a simple answer.

I am a coward.

I am a coward of the worst kind, a sly chicken parading around with peacock feathers taped to its back. I created this blog in a fit of self-confidence and then retreated back to my familiar isolation. In the past two weeks I have written five posts I could publish, but each time my mouse hovered over the publish key, a shiver of dread coursed down my spine. So I closed my laptop, promising to post something the next day. And did I? Not once.

I am the epitome of an introvert— my writing, my thoughts, my personality have always belonged to me alone. I don’t voice what I’m thinking, even if it would save me from sitting next to one of my friend’s friends in intolerable silence while my own friend is in the toilet (by far one of the most uncomfortable situations anyone can be in). Sometimes I’m jealous of people like my friend Quinn, who can strike up smooth conversation with anything from potted plants to the most intimidating teachers, but I’ve gradually accepted my wallflower status. 

The problem is, I don’t have the luxury of being completely self-contained. I want to be a writer. I want to publish books, essays, poetry collections, anything in as many places as I can. That doesn’t happen if my work only exists on a flash drive hidden in my desk. Safeguarding my work is more than a result of introversion; it’s a symptom of cowardice. I’m terrified I will spill my innermost soul onto paper only to have someone read it and flick up their nose in contempt. 

So, for the next six months I’m going to be brave. I’m entering every writing contest I wanted to submit my work to last year, but was too scared to. I’m writing down (and posting!) everything I’ve wanted to say for weeks, if not years. If I’m just a shout in the cavernous Internet black hole, so be it. If everyone reacts negatively, I’ll try not to curl into a ball and hide beneath a rock for the next twenty years. Hopefully I’ll see that I have what it takes to be a writer and not just someone who covertly scribbles in notebooks.

There are people in the world like John Kennedy Toole and Emily Dickinson, who get discovered after their deaths without any effort or self promotion. I don’t want to spend my life silently existing on the off-chance I live posthumously. I’m no Emily Dickinson (although I wouldn’t say no to having her talent for iambic tetrameter, let me tell you).

If you, imaginary reader, are anything like me, I urge you to take on this challenge with me. Timid athlete? Run onto that football pitch. Cowering actor? Shout Shakespeare until someone listens. Shove fear aside and play the person you want to become, if not for your own sake, then for mine. I’d love to make a moral support group.

(Does anyone appreciate my little joke? I’m saying, “Don’t be Emily Dickinson,” but in the picture I’m dressed entirely in white? Anyone? No? At least I think I’m funny.)

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