I Talk, Therefore, I Write

I talk a lot. Some say too much, but I take umbrage with that term, “too much”. I’ll bow to a lot, I totally get that, but who the hell are you to tell me it’s “too much”?

It’s always been this way. I started talking at 9 months, and as my friend Bronson used to say, “it’s been a non-stop conversation ever since.” People are annoyed by it, tease me about it and even laugh at me for it. They don’t really get it. Here’s the awful truth: I talk when I feel joyful or like someone. So having that someone tell you that you are annoying, let’s be fair, their total right to do, hurts. They sometimes even act like I’m gonna find it funny when they laugh at me for it. I’m not against laughing at myself, but that would be like telling a fat person that you think it’s so funny that they are fat and why aren’t they laughing, too?

It hurts for two reasons. One, that I’m only doing it because I feel happy and enamored with them. And two because I really wish I could control myself. I wish that I didn’t talk the ear off of those I enjoy most. I can even feel myself doing it. I wish I could stop. But I can’t, I’ve tried. When I do though, I always end up feeling like the lobotomized Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, when what I’m trying for is something more like a cross between a serene monk and Ferris Bueller. You know, someone that everyone loves, but knows when to shut up.

So what does one do with such an albatross around one’s neck? How do you reconcile having the inclination to drive away those you like most? Others must suffer with this hardly unusual affliction, surely. So there must be a common, readily available, affective cure. What do you do when you have so much to say and are missing a willing audience?

You write and try to get it all out on paper, so to speak (pun totally intended).

I used to think that writers were brilliant, brainy people who started when they were 5 and always went to college and who just “couldn’t not be a writer”. I’m pretty much none of those things. I didn’t go to college and I didn’t write much in my youth aside from some weird story I wrote for fun when in second grade about two deer in love. (Had I just seen Bambi or did I like to draw deer? I really can’t remember). So I thought, “I’m not smart or interesting enough to be a writer.” Even to this day, I am better at completing a writing assignment given to me by someone else than I am with knowing what someone else would want to read.

I also am terrible with commas. I recently met a guy who described himself as a “grammar nazi” and my first feeling was jealousy. (I know spell check wants me to capitalize “nazi, but I refuse. I feel bad enough that I am referring to anything with the word “nazi” in it in a positive way.)

Even my senior English teacher told me that my writing looked like I had just taken a saltshaker full of commas and shook it on the paper; overly abundant and totally random. I laughed so hard, because she was right and it was funny. She did however really respond to the content of my essays when they were honest. She was the first teacher to help me realize that I could do that, be honest in my writing and that it wasn’t inappropriate. They were the most fun to write and apparently what people wanted to read. My style was a bit tongue in cheek, but the good girl in me squashed that inclination because it wasn’t mature or scholarly. I hadn’t yet read any subversive writers just people like Laura Ingalls Wilder, C.S. Lewis and whoever wrote this autobiography of Helen Keller that I read over and over. When I made wry observations, this teacher would squawk with laughter and it made me feel fantastic. But that was high school and I was so in love with acting that being a writer of any kind was something that I’d never even considered mostly because I thought that I wasn’t smart enough and that it sounded a lot like school.

So, many years later, when I was trying to figure out who I was, yet again, I came across two different books that guided me back to writing. One was called, If You Can Talk, You Can Write. Done and done, I’m half way to being as prolific as Stephen King.

And the other book was called, The Secret of the Shadow by Debbie Ford. The first book is so obvious that I’ll just take it as a given that you get why it made me feel like my life’s purpose was explained in it’s pages. The second book operated on the premise that in order to embrace your shadow side, you should find a way to turn your fault into an asset. These two ideas collided and turned into me quitting my job to write a book that I began writing in 2003. It’s a self help about a meditation style that I learned and built upon. It’s 250 pages and not done yet, because another pair of shadow characteristics that I harbor is that I over analyze everything and I don’t deal well with endings.

My mother says that at the age of 3 I would cry when the Wizard of Oz was over because I never wanted it to end. I felt the same way when I watched Grease, Xanadu or Star Wars at the age of 8, when we had HBO. I must have watched those three movies 20-30 times because in the mid 80s, HBO played the hell out of all three and I couldn’t keep myself from watching if they were on. When the car went into the air at the end of Grease I became filled with such grief that it was over that I would be depressed for the rest of the day. For an 8 year old, that is a really logn time to be sad. The only way the 8 year old me got over it was to put on my fancy dress up shoes (bright purple) and my cutest top and strut around the neighborhood like Olivia Newton John. It wasn’t pretty. Luckily no one noticed, they just kept riding their bikes. The final chords of the song Xanadu still make me feel a little sad and the award ceremony at the end of Star Wars had me feeling like all of my friends were leaving my party without me.

So, as I still work on those last two shadows, I am writing this essay. I have actually come to love endings in movies, (as long as they exist, Woody Allen, I’m talking to you in the 70s and 80s), which has led me to screenwriting. Movies were, and always will be, my first real love. The only reason that I didn’t come to it soon is that I thought that there was no way I’d be any good at it. I honestly still don’t know if I am or not.
I’m also trying every day to not over think things, which is totally counter-intuitive. I have to concentrate and put effort into not concentrating too hard or putting too much effort in. It’s also hard to do when you’re trying to find ways to improve yourself. All morning while this essay was swirling around in my head, begging to come to life, Bruno Mars’s Just the Way You Are kept it company. I’m pretty sure that this was not some kind of divine message, I watched Pitch Perfect the other day and they sing it in that movie. But the message still holds true as I sing it to myself, “Cause girl, you’re amazing, just the way you are.” Damn straight, Bruno.

I’d love to hear about your shadow and how you’ve made it work for you. Leave a comment, because, we’re in this together.