In my experience, these words, whether spoken aloud or not, are representative of a fear that many of us have as people who use the Internet: at some point in the future, something I wrote or a picture of something I did will make me look stupid, if not worse (and as a result I will lose an election when someone digs it up). I did my undergrad in the Government Department, so I’ve probably heard this as much as I’m ever going to.
As someone who has wanted to write for a while, I’ve always been paranoid that something I write will later look horrible and have negative ramifications for me. But I’ve written a book, so I’m holding a bag and I don’t even know where the cat is at this point. However, my novel is fiction, and that puts a lot of distance between the words on the page and me. They are in their own world, and what they say does not necessarily reflect what I would say. A lot of what I want to write now, though, is not fiction.
I think most people, especially writers, have this fear at least a little. My identification of that is not groundbreaking. I am restating it for my own benefit, and in thanks to those who write anyway and allow me to learn from them. I owe the vast majority of my own learning to time spent alone with books. If the great women and men who wrote them had thought that They Might Run for Office Someday, and allowed that to sink in too deeply, the world would have lost a great deal of treasure, and I would have lost my best teachers.
Writing commits someone to that which they have written. On a relevant note, Atticus Finch once said that “[It] forces a man to make up his mind and declare himself about something. Men don’t like to do that. Sometimes it’s unpleasant.” He was referring to juries, but the idea is the same. It is possible that the things I write will look immature, undeveloped, or wrong to others at a later date. Worse, they might look that way to me. But I love that my mind grows and changes as it acquires new information. I don’t expect to think the same way in the future that I think now, and I will not fault myself for having less knowledge in the past than I do in the present.
To close, I will attach a picture of me in high school. I look silly, and I cringe slightly when I look at it. But I don’t regret the picture, because I was being silly in a benign fashion. However, this is the exact kind of picture that I wouldn’t want plastered on my rival’s campaign commercials. Oh well. With this picture and these words I formally relieve myself of the fear that I Might Run for Office Someday.
Check back soon for my next post, which is my first short story!