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Say it Anyway

By Tiffany Monhollon

Sometimes, nothing’s what you want to say.

I’m sitting here now, listening to hail tap onto concrete outside, to thunder passing into the distance, as the rain fades, wondering why that worries me.

Growing up, I used to write. Was it a passion or an obsession? I don’t remember.

I do remember that I had no audience. But I wrote to one anyway.

What did I say?

I had an Emily Dickinson phase. Instead of punctuation, dashes. Now I punctuate obsessively. Edit, revise, erase. When did that happen?

I remember that the dashes came first, the Emily Dickinson later. I was relieved that someone else had written that way before me, then upset that I didn’t think of it first. How unoriginal.

Words. I wrote words. I tested their sounds, filled sentences full of airy assonance, tacked consonants into tight parades across my screen. Snap. It was paper then. Do I remember?

Sometimes, I still put pen to paper. Test it. Wait to see what it could be.

Ideas now are my currency. And I wonder why I never stop to wonder when they became my master. When ideas became a thing to capture, instead of something that could capture me.

Is it wisdom when we stop looking at words for what they are and start molding them into what we want them to be? Or something less impressive?

Once, my greatest fear was that my words were written where they’d stay: tucked away in notebooks, hidden away, forgotten.

Now it’s that I worry too much about what I say. That I’ll lose the courage to say it anyway.

By Tiffany Monhollon | March 31, 2009

Topics: Authenticity, Blogging, Learning, Writing |

13 Responses to “Say it Anyway”

  1. Jennifer Brooks Says:
    March 31st, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Love your posts, Tiffany, you’ve got such a great writing style.

    I write for self-expression, a sense of adventure and creativity and, increasingly, for connection.

    But I find I sometimes need to take a moment to simply enjoy the writing process … which is challenging when I’m constantly structuring words and ideas for others … and even myself.

    I write … therefore I am?! ;)

  2. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    March 31st, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    @ Jennifer - Thanks so much! Writing this post was so fun - hitting publish is sometimes the challenge with posts like this. I struggle with, will anyone get this?

    And sometimes, I forget that that’s not always the point. It’s more like poetry than blogging. Which is something I love, but don’t do much anymore, because I spend so much time writing something else. Which, when I’m honest with myself, is sort of ridiculous.

  3. Mark V. McDonnell Says:
    March 31st, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Tiffany, have you seen Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk? It speaks strongly to some of the issues you raise.

  4. Gary Hilson Says:
    March 31st, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    I used to write with passion and obsession when I was young even though I had no audience. In a Web 2.0 world, where it’s easy to find a platform for writing, I do no creative writing - I can’t even kick start a blog.


  5. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    March 31st, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    @ Mark - I haven’t. I will have to check that out. I love TED talks. Thanks for sharing! I think the challenge of offering cretivity into the world is such a big, important topic.

    @ Gary - It’s so weird, isn’t it, what having at least a small audience does to the creative process, no? It’s something I think about and deal with on a daily basis. It’s an impossible irony that’s frustrating, to say the least.

    But that doesn’t mean creating and sharing meaning isn’t still possible, still important. Like this.

  6. Akhila Says:
    March 31st, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Beautifully written post, Tiffany. Your writing is so creative and beautiful.

    You are a great writer, and therefore you shouldn’t worry about what people think or what you should write about. Just write and let it flow naturally. Write about what you’re passionate about, or just about what comes into your mind. Don’t worry too much and let it go - and your results will be great. People will love it because it comes from the heart.

  7. Jamie Says:
    April 1st, 2009 at 5:02 am


    That touched me.

    I have nothing else to say except: continue writing. Don’t let that fear paralyze you into silence. Hit the pen to paper or the hand to keys and make something. It matters, doesn’t matter what it is, but it matters.

  8. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    April 1st, 2009 at 5:11 am

    @ Akhila - Thank you so much. I want to push my own creative limits further and further. I think that’s what my writing is trying to tell me. I am discovering, more and more, how powerful and incredible the published word can be. So thank you for being someone who makes my work matter. What an awesome gift we can give to each other - our attention, our input, our time.

    @ Jamie - It matters. It’s true. It’s easy to think that it doesn’t. Especially today. Crowded into a world where words are all around us.

    Maybe that makes ours matter even more.

  9. Susan Pogorzelski Says:
    April 1st, 2009 at 5:26 am

    A stunning, beautiful post, Tiffany. I love and understand everything you say.

    “Once, my greatest fear was that my words were written where they’d stay: tucked away in notebooks, hidden away, forgotten.”

    Sometimes I wonder if this is why we write…not just a need to create, but a desire to remember, to be remembered. We want an audience, we want someone to read our words because maybe we want some kind of acknowledgment of our existence. But then we have those readers, that audience, and suddenly we feel we have to be something greater, something more than we are.

    And sometimes that takes the joy out of it. And all we want to do is go back to where we were before, loving the language, playing with sound, writing for the joy of writing.

    I may have completely gotten the context of your post wrong, but I so very much appreciate your words. It’s helped me to remind me what really means to me — it isn’t a chore or a hobby, that it isn’t just a passion. It’s a simple kind of love — pure, honest, and ever-changing.

  10. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    April 1st, 2009 at 6:25 am

    @ Susan - Thanks so much.

    It’s an honor, like with art, or poetry, when people read into something you have created the meaning the need to see.

    I always hope, I think, when I write, that I will say something meaningful, and that I will convey what I’m trying to say. I don’t think those two things are in opposition to each other. Any experience or meaning you convey, whether intended or not, is an adventure, a process, a refining thing that powerful - if not a little mysterious.

  11. Jamal Rice Says:
    April 3rd, 2009 at 6:30 am

    I think its an obsession that you’re passionate about. It starts off just being something your passionate about and then all of the sudden you find yourself compelled to do it. But you really want to do it, so its not a bad thing.

    Have you checked out John and Merlin’s podcast about obsession? Its amazing.


  12. Forget all the rules, and write what you love « Justice for all Says:
    April 4th, 2009 at 6:16 am

    [...] write for the hell of it. Write whatever comes into your mind at that moment. Hit publish whenever you want, even if it’s 3am and no one’s [...]

  13. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    April 7th, 2009 at 9:33 am

    @ Jamal - I will have to check that out. Thanks for the tip!