To tell you the truth, I’ve always been wary of starting a blog. It seemed (and still does, to some extent) like an exercise in vanity at best, an embarrassment at worst. But I’m changing and growing. While reading blogs of other writers and thinkers I admire, I’ve come to realize that a blog can indeed be a powerful space where we give ourselves permission to write, to share our budding ideas with the world, to try them out. It’s also a place to store thoughts that we may return to later, fuel for future projects. Perhaps the true beauty of a blog lies in the fact that the writer never really knows who his or her words are reaching (unless, of course, readers are kind enough to comment). In this spirit of perceived audience anonymity, we give ourselves permission to play, to send words into cyberspace to see if they bounce back and stick in our psyches (or those of our readers).
This idea of “permission” has permeated my writing career. I began writing and translating professionally in graduate school. Therefore, my aesthetics, verbiage and style were necessarily limited– I had been molded into an “academic writer.” As I’ve moved away from the ivory tower, my writing has flourished (though I still enjoy writing a good literary analysis from time to time). This was not just a happy bi-product of leaving the constraints of traditional academia. Rather, it was a conscious choice— one fraught with both anxiety and freedom. Though I didn’t realize it until recently, I had to give myself permission to explore other genres and projects outside my fields of study. My life and writing have become much richer as a result of these new practices and perspectives.
Most of the time, however, “permission” is a much more of a day-to-day concept for me. I used to prioritize my own writing last — finishing projects for my clients, cleaning the house (not as often as I should), spending time on quotidian tasks before putting my own ideas out in the world (or at least on my laptop). I’ve gotten better at carving out time for my writing, but it always helps to have a little encouragement.
Last Saturday Michael (my husband) and I decided to take a day to clean the house. Just as I began scrubbing the sink, the muse hit. For the past week I had been tossing around the idea of writing something for my grandmother’s 84th birthday. Words began to take shape and I knew I needed to get them on paper.
“Sorry, I just thought of an idea for Grandma’s thing…” I told Michael, sheepishly heading away from the sink and toward my laptop.
“Then you should write,” he said. “The sink will still be here in an hour.”