Either Side of Exposure

After a couple of last minute posts, my “slacker” side thinks that this is the way to go, but the “planner” in me is bona fide Type A and won’t give up without a fight.  For two days, I’ve sat down to write a Friday post-and nothing.  I even reviewed my list of possible blog topics, but of course, not a single one screamed, “write me!”

Eleventh hour Thursday night, I had nothing.  Preparation was embroiled in hand-to-hand combat with spontaneity, and it seemed that preparation didn’t stand a chance.  I started to ponder what it was about the last minute situation that made me panic.  I mean, skipping a blog post wouldn’t send the world crashing down (and my subscribers would probably thank me for the break.)

Fear seems to be the root of it:  What if I didn’t think of an idea?  What if I did, but after writing it, I discovered it was dumb?

Those of you who’ve read my blog for any length of time probably think I face this regularly and just post anyway.  I assure you:  a lot of effort goes into writing to this level of mediocrity.  Good thing my standards are low 🙂  Simply put, spur of the moment writing makes me feel vulnerable.

Vulnerable.  That word carries with it some negative connotations.  Who wants to be vulnerable?  It’s no wonder.  The thesaurus in Word supplies the following similar words:  weak, helpless, defenseless and exposed.

Being exposed isn’t always a bad thing – unless we’re talking about scandals, diseases, or being locked out of the house with nothing but a small bath towel wrapped around your body.  Social situations make me feel as awkward as the bath towel scenario.  They make me feel vulnerable and exposed, but they don’t always have disastrous results (as long as I keep my mouth shut.)

We recently went to a Quinceañera (15-year-old’s birthday party) for the daughter of one of my husband’s coworkers.  I had heard that these events were as elaborate as weddings, but I had never seen it firsthand.  In this case, the grapevine was accurate.  The birthday girl wore a white floor-length hooped dress with purple accents, her mom and other girls of all ages wore purple bridesmaid-style dresses, and cake had at least six tiers displayed on a decorative table.

I was intrigued when the girl sat in a chair placed on the dance floor and her dad knelt down in front of her.  It looked similar to the bride/groom arrangement before the groom retrieves the garter, so I exhaled a sigh of relief when the mom set a shoe box on the floor next to him.  The dad removed his daughter’s ballet flats and replaced them with the pair of strappy pumps in the box.  (I gathered this symbolized the passage from child to woman.)

The girl danced a waltz with her dad (I bet those ballet flats would’ve been more comfortable) and midway through, he passed her off to a boy wearing a white tux.  There were several other boys in black tuxes that danced with her before returning her to the boy in the white tux.  After the dance, there was a toast given in Spanish.  I don’t know Spanish, so I depended on those around me to signal when to stand, lift my glass, say !Salut! and drink.

 I left the party with a new appreciation of a social custom that I don’t fully understand.  By resisting my tendency to stay home, I made myself vulnerable.  I learned something new.  It stands to reason that vulnerability in writing presents an opportunity to discover unexplored facets of ourselves and develop a connection between the writer and the reader.

We’re a society of comfortable creatures.  When we’re cold, we turn the heat up; when we’re hot, we run the air conditioner; when shoes pinch our feet, we go barefoot or buy ones that don’t hurt; when we’re hungry, we eat.  We seek comfort, not vulnerability.

Instead of making myself feel nothing, there should be times where I allow myself to shiver, sweat and endure discomfort; I have to acknowledge my vulnerability.  My writing depends on it.

How ’bout you – what makes you feel vulnerable when writing?

Have a wonderful weekend!

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22 thoughts on “Either Side of Exposure

  1. SuziCate March 11, 2011 / 7:08 AM

    Vulnerability is the most difficult part about writing for me. For years, I feared anyone ever reading my words. Now, I just push publish…and then wonder why I ever put it out there. Writing invites people into the deepest part of our souls…are we crazy (or courageous) to allow that?

    • jannatwrites March 11, 2011 / 7:51 AM

      I’m surprised that you have difficulty with vulnerability, SuziCate. All of your posts are so warm and say a lot about yourself. (Good things.)

      I tend to filter what I put on my blog, but I have put some difficult posts out there (those are the ones I schedule to publish while I’m sleeping so I can’t change my mind.)

      There’s a barely distinguishable line between crazy and courageous…and I honestly don’t know which side of the line I’m on 🙂

      Have a relaxing weekend!

  2. Aligaeta March 11, 2011 / 7:58 AM

    Vulnerability comes whenever I express matters of the heart, yet writers should ‘Write what they know’ and what do I know better than, what it is that I am feeling?

    To write on topic, such as tools for writers, you do so well. Yet, when you come out from your comfort zone to write about the boys mishaps, this is when I see you shine as a writer. Even as you fumble around the inability to chose a topic in this post, it’s real, it is something that I can relate to. Sometimes vulnerability is a gift, or is it writing through the vulnerability?

    • jannatwrites March 11, 2011 / 2:24 PM

      I agree that when we write about something that has deep meaning to us, we are more vulnerable. What is revealed may not be as polished and pretty as we would like.

      Thanks for sharing your reaction to my different kinds of writing, Aligaeta. It’s always interesting to know how our words may impact others 🙂

  3. 1959duke March 11, 2011 / 8:14 AM

    I think most of it comes from a deep seated fear of not getting the approval that we all seek. As I said to the man I tudor the other day ” what is the worst thing that can happen when you write something others do not approve of?” The answer is nothing. You do write well.

    • jannatwrites March 11, 2011 / 2:30 PM

      Duke, I think reaction does have something to do with it, but I’m often more critical of myself than anyone else is (or that anyone else lets on.)

      I do know that not everyone is going to like everything I write – and I’m okay with that. In fact, Ican’t think if anything that all people like without exception.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Duke!

  4. Tori Nelson March 11, 2011 / 9:52 AM

    I’ve been having the same problem this week. I tried to sit and spit out a quick post only to feel terrified that my lack of preparedness would show!

    • jannatwrites March 11, 2011 / 2:40 PM

      I don’t think you need to worry – your posts have been entertaining, as usual. I’m glad you stopped by today. Have a wonderful weekend, Tori!

  5. chlost March 11, 2011 / 9:56 AM

    What a cake!
    So, I have to ask, is this a post you planned, or was this one that came more or less spontaneously? It is probably obvious that most of my posts are spontaneous. For good or bad. But no matter, I like yours, no matter which they may be. Your vulnerability is there when your posts are about your family, especially, and that makes all the sense in the world. You should feel a bit vulnerable as you write about your personal feelings. Writers only disguise their personal feelings by writing fiction. I think those feelings are still just under the surface. It is a necessary part of writing. Or painting. Or singing. Or acting. We are putting ourselves out there for others to see. Go with it.

    • jannatwrites March 11, 2011 / 2:49 PM

      This post was not pre-planned. It came about after I started writing about the struggle with planning. When I wrote the word ‘vulnerable’, it made me think of the party, where I felt vulnerable. I survived that party and learned something new, so I figured if I’m honest & vulnerable with my writing, maybe that will turn out okay too.

      I do struggle with the family posts because I don’t want to reveal too much. I’m always afraid I will accidentally use one of the kids’ names 🙂

      I do agree that much of fiction covers feelings behind it. (Sometimes I’ll write a sad story when I’m feeling sad – the situation in the story is different, but the emotion is real.)

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your thought, Chlost. I appreciate it 🙂

  6. Carol Ann Hoel March 11, 2011 / 4:37 PM

    How very interesting is the Quinceañera! Sweet sixteen parties that I’ve heard about in my nation are nothing compared to this celebration. Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

    Answering your question: I like what I write, and believe God helps me. But, as I click the publish button, I quake with trepidation. Next I consider whether I should rush back in and delete my post. I quickly ask God to forgive me for a post unworthy of Him, because God is great, and how can I write anything that really says how great and awesome God is? Then, when my kind friends make favorable comments, I thank God that He blessed it, such as it is. It’s a cycle. I hope I toughen up a bit as time goes by.

    You have a great weekend, too. Blessings to you, Janna.

    • jannatwrites March 12, 2011 / 10:41 AM

      Carol, your posts praise God as well as any human possibly could. I’m surprised that there are times when you consider deleting a post – I thought that was just me 🙂

      I do think you and your words are blessed. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your vulnerability.

  7. nrhatch March 11, 2011 / 10:23 PM

    The other day, you told me, being me does get easier each day, and each day I care even less about what others think.

    Go with that feeling. 😀

    Be who you are and say what you mean because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

    • jannatwrites March 12, 2011 / 10:42 AM

      It’s true that each day I care less, but I’m not to the point where I care “none” – give it some time 😉

      Love the Dr. Suess quote, Nancy. (Of course it could be because I love his books, too.)

  8. J. P. Cabit March 12, 2011 / 9:03 PM

    Hey Janna—Never been to a Quinceañera. But my, does it sound elaborate (and expensive)!!! I don’t mind social situations—I love socializing. I’ve come to grips with becoming vulnerable. Maybe there’s some gold in there somewhere…maybe that’s why I persist…

    • jannatwrites March 14, 2011 / 7:19 PM

      Yeah, I bet it would cost a lot of money for the party. I don’t mind parties so much when there are some people I know, but I do get apprehensive when I don’t know anyone.

      I’m glad you’ve accepted vulnerability, J.P….and who knows, maybe you can strike gold 🙂

      • J. P. Cabit March 16, 2011 / 7:34 AM

        After I wrote that comment I realized how arrogant it sounded!!! Wasn’t writing that to rub it in your face…was just sharing. 😀

        • jannatwrites March 16, 2011 / 8:42 AM

          I didn’t take it as ‘arrogant’ at all, but thanks for the apology anyway. (Had you written, “geez, you’re a socially inept loser. I can thrive in any social situation and everyone likes me,” I many have been a little taken aback ;))

  9. Amanda Hoving March 14, 2011 / 8:21 PM

    What a thoughtful post, Janna.

    My WIP is making me feel very vulnerable, because it’s so different from anything I’ve written before. But I’m pressing on. I think our writing has the potential to be so much better when we take risks.

    • jannatwrites March 14, 2011 / 9:37 PM

      Thank you, Amanda!

      If we can get ourselves to take risks and be vulnerable, it can add new life to our writing. Good luck on that WIP of yours (but I don’t think you need the luck!)

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