I have a confession to make: writing scares me. There, I said it. Now, I’m sure you’re probably wondering why someone who is scared of writing would a) be a writing tutor and b) start a blog. It just doesn’t add up, does it? But before you go jumping to conclusions, let me explain myself.
Honestly, I’m not scared of the actual writing process itself. I love being able to put my thoughts down on paper (or screen) and see them all laid out in front of me in black and white. It’s a way for me to organize all the jumbled words in my head and make sense of them. I like being able to paint a picture with my words and immerse the reader into the world I see in my head.
What really scares me is the vulnerability I feel and the potential criticism from others. When I write, all of my thoughts, hopes, and dreams are out in the open. They aren’t locked away in my head anymore, and anyone—invited or not—can see them. I’ve opened myself up, and I’m scared of the judgment. Will people like what I write? Will they think my writing is awful, or worse yet, will they not even get what I’m trying to say?
I need to remind myself that I’m not writing for the approval of others. I’m writing for myself. I write not only improve myself as a person, but also to improve my writing. I believe Rodolfo Costa sums it up best, “Criticism is just someone else’s opinion. Even people who are experts in their fields are sometimes wrong. It is up to you to choose whether to believe some of it, none of it, or all of it. What you think is what counts.”
Some days, all I want to do is disappear. I want to go to a place where nothing can hurt me, no one can interrupt me, and where I’m lost. Lost in a world of black and white; a world that only I can bring color to with a simple touch of hair to steel. One where I can feel the power pouring from my fingertips guiding them through fluid motions up and down the sleek neck of my violin.
This world is not hard for me to get to. It’s there, right within reach, just underneath my bed. Slipping my hand into the semi-darkness, I grip the handle and drag out my portkey. In the bed of red velvet lies my violin—mine since I was twelve years old. It shines and glimmers in the sun pouring through the window and I ache to hold it. Carefully, I pick it up and caress its smooth, cool skin. Placing it on my shoulder and nestling it underneath my chin, I reach for the bow. Two become one as the bow glides across the strings. The first note emerges and I am quickly lost in the world of music.
Playing from memory, I close my eyes and fully become immersed in the emotions of the song. I feel each note as it’s played and emerges from the violin, and my entire body will be poured into the song as I make sense of the black dots in my mind. As I go deeper into this world, I soon forget the one I am in. Slowly, I return to earth as the last note fades away. The room is silent, but my heart no longer is. It is alive. Music touches me in a way nothing else can. It is as if the notes are the only way my heart can truly speak.
I feel unsocial. Like a wallflower. An introvert. Watching my team take us to the championships as I sit on the bench. Outside, I am calm and collected, but inside, I am screaming. I want to join in, but I can’t. I am suffering. Suffering from Writer’s Block.
Writing prompts are there to get the juices flowing, to get the gears moving to get you to write. I, however, am stuck in the mud. Unable to gain any traction, my wheels are spinning. It’s frustrating. I want to write and join in with everyone, but I feel stuck behind a glass wall. I’m able to see everything going on through the glass, but am unable to get the full experience.
Should I force myself to write something, anything? Or should I wait until one of the prompts finally hits me and inspires something? Or, perhaps, maybe I was prompted. Prompted to write about how I couldn’t write. So, in a roundabout way, am I out of the rut?
I typed this up while I was staying in Jerusalem last week, and am just now getting around to posting it.
Our tour group wound its way through the narrow, stone streets of Jerusalem. At every turn, I craned my neck hoping to be the first to catch a glimpse of the ancient wall that is the only remainder of the Second Temple. Suddenly, we entered a doorway, and there it was–The Western Wall–exactly as I had seen it in pictures. The wall loomed above the people praying at its base. They each swayed to their own rhythm; the men wrapped in their white tallits and the women burying their faces in their siddurs.
We walked closer and separated: men to the left side and women to the right. I was shocked at the wave of emotion that hit me as I walked closer to the Wall. I am not an openly emotional person, and so I separated myself from the group in an effort to conceal the tears.
All around me, women were praying, some silently, some loudly sobbing. I rolled the note I had written as I inched closer to the wall. Picking at a corner of the paper, I waited for an opening. The girl in front of me backed away from the wall, and I slid into her spot. The cracks in the wall were packed with folded bits of papers covered in the prayers of the countless women who had come before me. I poked and prodded my note until it stayed where I had placed it.
Laying my hand against the ancient stones, I was shocked at its coldness. It’s coolness was a welcome relief to the day’s heat, and I rested my head upon them as I prayed. Oblivious to those around me, I was only focused on my prayers that I was saying at the base of where the temple once stood. As I finished, I backed away and my spot was quickly filled in like wet sand.
Being careful not to turn my back, I walked backwards gazing at the looming tan stones. I was in awe that I had just prayed at the very site that every Jew in the world hopes to one day visit. This experience will stay with me for days to come. And the saying shana haba b’yerushalayim–next year in Jerusalem–has an entirely new meaning for me. Because this year, I was there. I made it.