Still Working It Out

by Tom Swift

We were walking about the art gallery when a woman friend familiar with some of my unvarnished writings remarked: “it sounds like you are working some things out.”

“Always,” I replied.

There is a tension between the desire to work things out in public, in published form, and the desire to do so in private, or in at least safe spaces.

I keep coming back to this site. This blog. It seems I want to work something out here.

I envy people who have one or two passions. Those people who wake in the morning already clear that today they will seek to become a better cellist, a better power forward.

Most days I have no such clarity.

I have been a writer all my life. Yet focusing on one subject is a challenge.

There is another tension, related, between the need to be seen and the desire to present as polished.

Polished: takes forever and comes with the other trappings of perfectionism.

To be seen is to be vulnerable.

Writing is, in a way, a form of polish. You assemble words in various ways; you delete, expand, revise — it is part of the act.

I have not much preferred to read the writings of those who skip the editing part of writing. See: Facebook.

We read writers because they have crafted thoughts, ideas, and stories in such a way as to elevate beyond gut reactions and mental masturbation.

Tensions: a gift to see them, a barrier to action.

I don’t know if anything I am writing is bringing value to the world. But I know it doesn’t do anyone anything when it remains in my notebook.

So here I am … working things out. In public view. My own studio, if not gallery.

May I be polished enough to be worthwhile and vulnerable enough to keep trying.