They say to write about what you know. Well, what DO I know?
I know that rain is wet; that grass is green. I know what the summer sun smells like on my skin. I know what playing in the ocean feels like. I know that sex books will be shelved in most libraries under 613 with the health books and that cookbooks are in the 641’s. I know that Pooh’s good friends are named Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Eeyore and Owl. I know that night follows the day and that day follows the night. I know a lot of things, but I don’t know that any of them classify as worthy to be read.
Who would want to read a novel about librarians? Not that we’re boring, but generally we are rather average people. We may know how to find information and other materials that others are unable to, but does that make us novel worthy? I’ve read a lot of murder mysteries and suspense novels in my time, but I’m not a cop, or an anthropologist or a doctor. What do I know about crafting believable investigations? What makes me think that I would be any good at any of this?
Yet, the characters won’t stop shouting at me; each one louder than the last, all vying to be heard. Most of it is there, in my head. The rest of it? It just so happens that I AM a librarian. I could probably find it, or find someone else who knows what I need. So why is it so hard to sit down and purge those voices onto the page? To give form and focus to the shouting melee in my head?
I want to be heard. As a person. As a writer. Really, being heard is what most people want. However, some succeed easier (and more often) than others. Most times, I feel that I am one of the unheard. I am one of those who tends to fade into the background and let things stand as they are because it won’t rock the boat. It’s easier to give in and go with things as they are than it is to try to be heard above the masses of others clamoring for attention; to be heard over the din of everyday life. But what makes me less important than those others? What makes me more important than those others? Everything and nothing. We each have our part to play. We each have our voice to be heard. It is up to each of us to find our way and MAKE ourselves heard.
It’s hard to change course. It’s hard to change your mindset once it has been made up and you have been laboring under the same illusion for years. The illusion that you’re less important, or perhaps more important; the illusion of how you see yourself versus how others see you. Perception is a funny thing. I have been accused of being selfish and a manipulative attention seeker. I have been told I’m selfless and need to take more time to focus on myself. To me, I am a Jack of all trades but master of none. I know many things, but I am not an expert on anything. Not saying I’m worthless, I just don’t know that I have anything worthwhile to contribute. What is there for me to actually SAY that’s worth hearing? Our perceptions color our reality… but the same is true of others. To some, I am a selfish manipulator because that is what they choose to see. To others, I’m the patient and understanding counselor, because that is what they need to see. The actual reality lies somewhere in between.
There are few people who truly are what we see on the outside. There are few truly good or truly evil people. All of us reside in the gray area in between. The face we choose to show is generally not the whole truth, but only a small aspect of it. We allow others to see only a small part of ourselves and allow them to draw their own conclusions and to believe their own perceptions about us. Then, we judge THEM for not knowing us as they should. We want to be heard, but are afraid of the response, so we speak in partial truths that can be changed at the first sign of a negative response. “No, no, that’s not what I meant at all… what I meant was…”
Baring the soul is a scary prospect. What if we are rejected? Hurt? Unloved? What if people turn their backs on us because we aren’t what they expected? What they wanted? Honestly… who cares? Each of us has a voice, a unique perspective colored by our experiences and our own perceptions of reality. Our differences are what people love about us. We bring a new outlook, a new perspective to their reality. If people don’t like OUR interpretation of things; if they allow their prejudices to color the way they see us, the way they define us, who cares? Isn’t that their shortcoming?
The truly enlightened see themselves for who they truly are and don’t allow others’ perceptions to change them.