I’ve been having trouble facing myself in my writing, lately. I suppose I’ve been having this problem my whole life. I like to call it “grabbing the cactus” – just a strange term for leaning into all the prickly, uncomfortable parts of me and getting them down in writing. It isn’t fun, it isn’t relaxing, and it doesn’t feel good, but it has to happen. That’s where I find the truth and drive in my writing; I find it not only in my happiness but also in my sadness, fears, and disappointments. That’s where my truth in writing is – in the spiny parts that I don’t want to touch. It’s in the cactus.
In my experience, I’ve never had a problem looking at the ugly parts of the world. There are so many of them, it’s hard not to write about them. There is an overabundance of topics and horrors to cover when observing the world as it turns itself inside out. At times, it’s easy to get washed away in all this and come to a point of completely focusing on the external. Or perhaps it’s my own form of procrastination as I do my best to avoid the internal things I’d prefer not to look at. Perhaps it’s my own attempt to keep everything nicely locked up where no one (me) ever has to look at all the messy pieces.
As good as it may be to never touch cacti in real life, it isn’t sustainable to avoid them in writing. There’s too much of myself, and there’s too much of ourselves, that spills into writing to leave ourselves unexplored. This isn’t to say that it’s necessary to put oneself through struggles for the benefit of other, so other can people can read all the hidden secrets, but it is to say that writing benefits from self-exploration. It can never exist in a personal vacuum; it will starve and dehydrate. It needs personal bravery to thrive, so it’s necessary to lean into the ugly parts of ourselves and expose them to the pen or keyboard, or whatever tool. It’s necessary to grab the cactus.