Asshole Writer

My tenth grade English teacher started each class period with 15 minutes of writing in response to a prompt he’d write on the whiteboard. When writing time was up, he’d choose a few people in the room to read their writing aloud. No one was safe. He chose anyone in the room at random (mostly), whether they raised their hand to share or not.

I don’t feel comfortable sharing my writing, especially a first draft, so I was terrified of this daily assignment. At first, I’d spend half the writing time overthinking what to write because I knew if my teacher called on me, I’d have to share. When he involuntarily asked me to read, I refused to say anything other than “no, thank you.” He waited in silence for me to start reading, which I considered a challenge of who-can-stay-silent-the-longest. I’d wait so long my peers would plead me to “just read it” in impatience.

I’m very stubborn and refused to lose a battle in a war of “who’s the biggest asshole?” As a skilled asshole, I eventually refused to write anything at all, so I’d hold up my clean sheet of paper if called on. I mean, I can’t read if there’s nothing on the paper!

I got a C that year in English. I won the war of who’s the bigger asshole and still passed the class. It was the participation that brought my grade so low, but I otherwise did a great job? It was tenth grade, though, so it doesn’t matter. The point is, I developed an unhealthy way of coping with the idea of sharing myself with others that remains in my psyche today.

Now, when I sit down to write, I have difficulty doing it because what if someone else reads it? What will they say? What will they think? Is this too personal? “Yadda, yadda,” as George Costanza once said. I’m afraid to share my thoughts with others, so I shut them down altogether to avoid sharing them at all.

This coping mechanism might’ve helped me then, but as a writer who wants to get published, it’s preventing me from following my dreams today. Now, I’m pushing myself to write more and find comfort in the absolute nightmare of sharing my writing.

I want to write more, share more, and learn to deal with the anxieties that come with it. My goal is to post original writing here more frequently. About what? I’m not sure, other than whatever’s on my mind. From movie reviews to short story drafts – I need to type it out and post it to “face my fears” and get over them.

Published by Debra Beatty

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