I was driving my car in annoying LA traffic the other day, and I realized something terrible. I write apologetically. Additionally, all the good stuff I have ever written, that I have published thus far or have put up on stage, has been work where I literally said F*CK IT!! Pieces I even submitted with typos (O.M.G. the worst, I know!). Yet those raw pieces I have written with no worries are the ones that get noticed. While the writing where I am constantly walking the line, struggles.
I am in the process of writing a new short play. A piece dear to my heart, and it is the first piece I have written with little to no humor. I use humor to hide trauma drama realness. The first draft got some folks emotional in the writing group. The second draft I was instructed to insert some required elements for the festival rules, which changed the piece from raw realness to now fit in this puzzle. My third draft is a better balance of both real and BS. Now the big question. Will my piece still move folks? Does this new hybrid of my rawness and apology/limitations get accepted? We’ll see.
The short play is about my grandmother, my aunties in Perú, and other women in my life who are absolute survivors.
I wanted to write about that. The NICENESS of us; the poison we drink as young women that later become part of our bloodstream and it’s hard to be separated from. I will follow the rules and hope to be part of the festival. But what if I were to pull it out and say … you know what? This is not the iteration I want portrayed. This is a special piece, and your rules are crap. In the past three years, I have met unapologetic womxn and I am constantly moved by their bravery. When will I be influenced? They challenge the idea of Niceness, which leads me to question the actions I make when deciding creative work.
Like most writers, I like to suffer. Go through the punches, if you will, out of sheer curiosity of the lived experience because in essence that also feeds my writing. I tell myself, maybe they know something I don’t, or I will learn something from this experience, or worse — the festival will be a great experience for networking. GUAT?! (pronounced: WHAT) I apologize for the person whom I engage with; as some might say – give them the benefit of the doubt, and pray that it will all turn our okay. This type of apologetic living has gotten me not so far in relationships in the past. It’s insane I still think I have more to learn, but there is always something to learn. I think?
Is this a sustainable practice?
Part of this curiosity and wonder is what makes me a writer. Yet I sometimes think, is this polite go with the flow energy what is keeping me from diving deeper into my real writing voice. Truth. Vérité, if you will? La verdad es, the truth is…I don’t have an answer at this moment. I just needed to vent. Share these string of thoughts. Also is truth overrated? Are limitations necessary for the integral part of meaning making process for our readers? And what is wrong with developing relationships in an artistic community?
I suffer. I am a writer and I suffer. I am not alone in my suffering. Another thought … am I substituting this NICE concept with what really lies beneath me… a coward?
Not all women are polluted by the idea of Niceness, but a lot of us Latinx womxn grew up in that sh*t like it was part of our identity, glued to us in some way. Inescapable out of the desire to keep traditions alive and boundaries accessible to us, for safety. Ah, safety. Kind of like religion; you need it sometimes because without it how can you understand love versus danger? Or at least this is what we are told. Which later some of us are like, this is B.S. – either way you’re going to get hurt! Might as well be mean and get to the bottom of it! I mean some of us follow all the rules with our partners, and they still turn out to be dicks. Even after marriage. We just adjust. We powerful mujeres/womxn.
Now my short play is blended with my twisted idea of love.
What the hell do I do now? We’ve been lied to and we lie to ourselves to fit in a box of Niceness. And since we are paid like crap, we smile through it so we don’t get fired. Well, some of us hold that. For others, like me and my deranged freelance paycheck to paycheck life, the damage has been done. And now Niceness is part of the curious exploration of … I wonder where my boundary will pop up this time?
We are nice. Too freaking nice.
The worst part of this niceness apologetic voice BS is that it spreads. It lives in the way we walk, talk, in our desire to please and give that last tampon in our purse to the rude girl in the bathroom for hope that maybe she may be nice back at us. It’s so unfair, Reader. Often times she is not Nice. Often times she’s quite the little witch, and we judge her for it! And that’s when we are part of the problem. The expectations pushed on a girl to be nice to us, to smile at us because we gave her a tampon. Patriarchal nonsense.
My mind has been busy, as you can see.
My play in limbo.
My writing urging me to be honest and say f*ck it all! Get published and tell your truth. You are bound to piss someone off. Who cares!? The written word needs to be expressed.
For many a year I have been unknowingly writing APOLOGETICALLY. This year I accept the fact that I have been a coward in hopes that I move past this…nice apologetic voice of mine. My goal is to end 2019 with that desire to please, and just be me. The real, weird, raw, sci-fi, fart and alien loving me. That’s what folks tend to gravitate towards anyways. The weird 13 year old me who self deported to Perú. Not this 30-something grown up who wears pencils in her hair, drinks chai’s in the afternoon while people go to work, and tells her husband – watch the kid, I’ll be back. The immigrant. The feminist. The weirdo. The mom. The once undocumented me. Just me.
I’ll keep ya posted how it goes. 2020 is going to be pretty interesting.
Can someone out there relate?