There was a point in my life where I really related to John Mulaney’s comedy sketch joke that he was a chronic people pleaser. “Running for the mayor of nothing” was the line when it came to trying to make others happy.
I wanted to do the same thing for the longest time. Write to please others’ expectations. And there’s a difference between writing for a job or for myself. When you’re given an assignment, there’s only so much you can do, especially for freelance writers.
HOWEVER, whether you have a certain amount of creative leeway or you’re writing something you’re passionate about that you hope to sell commercially, other writers often advise to write for yourself.
But what the hell does that mean? I don’t have an answer for everyone, but I have an answer for what works for me. I used to avoid the taboos. No strong language. Sit still, look pretty. Hide the truth because the truth is ugly.
It could be because I’ve had a new relationship with my mental health. A sort of openness. Everything isn’t always perfect, but I have a family that isn’t necessarily blood. Int can be blood, but it’s also friends and people who laugh at my silly jokes or make me feel better by singing songs or share the same struggles.
I’m willing to open up more with my writing. I want to place my soul in it like it’s a damn Horcrux. Dorian Gray, move over. Paintings are over. Selfies are in.
I am me. And my writing is a true reflection of that.