On Bravery

“And you, O my soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,–seeking the spheres, to connect them; 
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d–till the ductile anchor hold; 
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my soul.”
-Walt Whitman

I have never been brave when it comes to writing. I don’t let anyone read my poems or stories, but I’ve never really thought about why until this week. Recently I have found that my desire to write is changing. I find myself wanting more and more to bring something to the table professionally. As I evaluate these desires, I am seeing how truly “un-brave” I have been.

For many people, my peers included, joining in online discussions and forums, even blogging, is second nature. They launch themselves headlong into these arguments on Facebook and Twitter without any sort of caution. For me, this concept of the internet as a soap box or a platform to promote yourself and your ideas requires a lot more thinking. I am bound to over think just about every decision in my life, and this idea of launching forth my own words into the void of the internet requires just as much deliberation.

I see the internet as a scary mix of anonymity and notoriety, both of which can be comforting and frightening prospects. I like the prospect of sharing my opinions anonymously, but I don’t want to stay in the shadows of that anonymity forever. When I examine my goals in writing, I can’t deny that notoriety is at least on the list. The path to that notoriety is what frightens me the most.

That path involves things like “putting myself out there,” and “taking steps,” and “networking.” If you aren’t an introvert, those things sound like good, solid advice. But if you’re like me, those three phrases are enough to strike terror in the depths of your heart.

For me, my introversion is almost a necessary precursor to writing: stillness, solitude, and the sounds of a dissipating bubble bath are nothing short of bliss. In my own little corner I am free to write, and I have a growing desire to write well and often. But lately I have been wondering if I am guilty of using my personality as a crutch that could hinder my life and joy as a writer. Is my unwillingness to share my work truly fear over its inadequacies or pride at the thought of criticism? And how will I know if I don’t ever launch forth a filament at all?

The truth of the matter is this: What have I to lose? If I sit in my apartment and write poems and stories but never take steps to realize my dreams out in the “real world,” nothing will ever change. But if I do launch forth from this “isolated promontory” there might be wonderful things out there.

So I suppose it’s time to decide. It’s 2014. This is the year during which I will make a concerted effort to write every day. To do more with my writing. To hopefully say to someone, “I am a writer.” 

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