Michelle Wittle On Seeing The Cliché Forest for the Trees

Michelle Wittle On, Writing Tips

Perhaps it is the writer’s curse, or maybe it is the thing that keeps an artist humble, but I never see myself for all the good others see in me. I am reminded of those lyrics in that song, “Waste of Paint” by Bright Eyes that goes something like: thanks for thinking I created something worthy of praise, but nothing good comes from me; therefore, your compliment is wasted on me.  Why do we do this to ourselves?


I never see the positive in myself; I only live in negatives. I take things that are not normal and twist them in my mind so I can justify them as normal. For about five years, I had this nice golf ball sized growth in my neck. Never once did I think it was anything but normal. I mean, doesn’t everyone get golf ball sized tumors in their neck? Well, it turned out my golf ball was swimming with cancer. I am fine now…but my point is, I just take clear abnormal warning signs and justify them as normal.


You are sitting there thinking, what does this have to do with writing? First, just indulge me a little…I am feeling a bit philosophical. Second, it has everything to do with writing.


The other day, I was sitting with an old/new friend (we were great friends in high school, then we both just stopped talking, the power of facebook reunited us) and she point blank asked me why don’t I just write essays? I took a few minutes with that question because it held so many other questions. The only one that kept repeating was, “yeah, why don’t I write essays”?


I have been struggling with my short stories. I write them and then I wonder if they are too immature or if they just plain suck worse then a hungry piglet. Like I said in my other blog, all story lines are the same, it is our voice that makes them different. So, why don’t I use my voice and the way I see the world and my place in it and just talk about that?


Simply put, I don’t see the forest for the trees. I look for signs everywhere and here was this big one screaming, “Yo…over here…write essays…write your life story”. I just kept ignoring it because I think my life isn’t so special and seriously, who would want to read about me?


Again, I misread the sign and I am diluting the importance of my life and its lessons. So, keeping all that in mind, I am going into the world of essay/memoir writing. I have no idea where to start or what section of my life to pinpoint as the springboard, but for that I’ll look to one of my heroes, Augusten Burroughs. I was always amazed how willing he was to share his life with the world, and now I am slowly following his path.


As always I will keep you in the loop of how things are going. I am not saying I will never write another piece of fiction again; I am just saying I am going to try this new genre on. Beside, Tina always asked me to write my story and now maybe I finally have the guts to do so.


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