by David Lacy
“I don’t know what your generation’s fascination is with documenting your every thought but I can assure you, they’re not all diamonds. ‘Roman is having an OK day, and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station. Raise the roof.’ Who gives a rat’s ass?” – Mr. Griffith, The Easy A
I used to joke that my life was like The Truman Show. Before Facebook, and even before Myspace, I had a weekly column in a daily newspaper in a college town. The column, “Growing Younger,” was primarily a lifestyle feature; I preferred to write on topics I had encountered in my own life, such as relationships and family, as well as issues pertaining to self-esteem and self-worth (two things I struggle with).
In many ways my column resembled the growing “field” of blogging (I began the column in 1998), except that I always did my best to ensure I wrote about an issue or experience only after I had had some time to reflect on it. I couldn’t stand those “writers” who went on rants based on present emotions, emotions they would frequently regret later.
Interestingly enough, I learned later that one of my greatest writing mentors – fellow iPinion columnist Debra DeAngelo – had also experienced these Truman-esque feelings. She also resides in a small town, but had even greater print success, becoming syndicated in literally dozens of national newspapers, and nabbing several prolific awards. Debra doesn’t think, she knows, that everyone in her community is aware of who she is, and she can barely walk down the street without being accosted by readers. Anonymity in her world is impossible.
In 2003, “Growing Younger” won “Best Column” in the California Newspaper Publisher’s Awards (the most prestigious state awards, in which nearly ever print news publication in California participates), and I instantly felt that my first-hand observations and reflections had been legitimized. When I began a new column earlier this year with iPinion, I sought to replicate the style and format of the weekly feature that had “trademarked” the conclusion of my journalism career. I returned to opining on the complexities of this crazy thing called life and did my best to make sure I only put forward information I had “censored” through my frontal cortex.
And then, suddenly and abruptly, I had something really worth writing about.
My life took a serious and sharp turn for the worse this summer, and I was immediately handed a shitload of emotion and feeling to sort through and analyze. I instantly did the only thing I knew how to do when confronted with tremendous uncertainty … I wrote. I vomited thoughts onto the Word Document file. I wrote possibly the most emotional column I have ever written in my life.
I was about to post this passionate maelstrom to iPinion – ready to reap the fruits of my cognitive labor — when I instantly felt slightly nauseous. I literally doubled over for a moment, feeling like I was going to throw up. After a few minutes of gasping at air, I decided to send the column to two of my best friends, as well as the one person who has had the most impact in my life to date.
None of them wanted me to run the column.
My two best friends warned me that I was treading into “reactionary” territory; the third person said I could run it if I wanted (she wouldn’t stop me), but that she was extremely uncomfortable with the piece.
It was too raw. It was too present.
It was exactly the sort of public writing I hated.
I spent the next two months paralyzed with writer’s block. This single issue was the only thing I wanted to write about but I knew I couldn’t. I knew that the one thing consuming my every waking thought would be the one thing I couldn’t expose to the world.
Not like this anyway. Not in this fashion.
I return to iPinion after a two-month writing hiatus, uncertain of how I should proceed. I am a different person than I was at the start of the summer, but I don’t know that I’m ready to share with all of cyberspace just who this new David Lacy is.
I return to iPinion as a writer who wants to share everything, but is scared as hell of exposing anything.
I return a blank page.