So that happened.
It’s been one of those weeks. A smoothie explosion in the car, glass shard in the thumb, flu shot in the arm, forgot my friend kind of week. With no wine at the end of the day, because I gave that up for now (why?!). Everyday something has happened that has thrown me just a bit.
Wednesday night was no different, dinner with friends after yoga to celebrate a birthday. Until one of those friends told me, while we were eating our spinach quesadillas, that a blog reader of hers asked if I had plagiarized her writing. She wasn’t concerned, it wasn’t true in her mind so she delivered the news almost cavalierly, as if it were a funny anecdote, something we would both chuckle at, shake our heads at, and then forget entirely as we resumed talking about movies. Instead it stopped me in my tracks, mid-bite, so that I didn’t even remember what comes next after you bite into a quesadilla.
Did I plagiarize her? I can’t even spell plagiarize. I had to look it up and it still doesn’t look right to me. Could I actually have done something I can’t even spell?
If not stealing her actual words, am I stealing her thoughts? Her experiences? Her badges of honor, the lessons she has fought tooth and nail to learn?
Am I a fraud?
Does this mean that I don’t have any original thoughts?
What am I doing writing a blog?!?!? I’m not a writer!
That’s what a funny anecdote did to me over dinner on a Wednesday night at Mexican restaurant: reduced me to the root of all of my fears. What will people think of me?
It shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter that a woman I don’t know, who meant no harm with her question, thinks I might have ripped off my friend, one of my favorite people (never, please believe me!). It shouldn’t matter what she, or any other person who reads what I’ve written thinks (please think I am good, please like me!). It shouldn’t, it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t. And still it does. I am still here, on my computer and it’s too late, pleading with the world to accept me, to love me.
Just like that I doubt the authenticity of everything I’ve written. Because someone, one person I know of but maybe more, said it might not be mine. Because now in fact I can’t remember.
I don’t remember what I remember.
It’s always been this way I think, or maybe it’s just a story that I tell myself (although all evidence seems to support the theory). I have no idea what the book I read last week was about; I think I loved it. I have virtually no recollection of what I wrote last week. When I go back to read it in the future, I will be surprised, like discovering $5 in the inside pocket of your ski jacket that you’re sure you must have left there last season (because who else would have?) but you just can’t remember.
When you don’t remember what you remember, how can you really know if you are lifting someone else’s words or writing your own? They just pop up in your head and flow out your fingers, but are they yours? Is it like when a friend points out that you are singing along to the song playing in the car, and you have no idea how you could have been, because you don’t know the words but apparently you do? If you think you thought them, is that good enough?
I guess it will have to be. Since I can’t figure out a way to catalogue every word, every thought that I’ve read, I will just have to rely on myself…that something inside my brain will filter out what others have said and leave behind just me, for better or for worse.
I wrote a blog earlier in the week that linked to another blogger I just discovered–a published and acclaimed book author whose writing I found inspirational. I hit the “publish” button my post with trepidation. What if she hated it? What if she didn’t want to be associated with my amateurish little site, or my (possibly) unoriginal thoughts? What will SHE think of me?
She, Jo, was gracious enough to reach out and thank me for the blog. To tell me that she loved it even. To validate it for me. Like every comment on everything I have written thus far has done as well. And I may always need that external validation. I may always care, to some degree, what you think of me.
But today, I will go back and read all of the blog posts before this (and I’ve practically forgotten this one already) and I will let myself be surprised. And delighted. Proud even.
Because today, I want ME to want me. And I think I will.