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What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Allen Ginsberg

“Concentrate on what you want to say to yourself and your friends. Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. You say what you want to say when you don’t care who’s listening.”

–Allen Ginsberg

Submitting to Moodiness

Last night, I got in a quote-y mood. I’ve collected quotes for years, and lately I’ve been feeling the urge to revisit some of my favorite writings on writing. So, I sat down, pulled out the notebooks I’ve filled with quotes, and started tweeting my writing faves. (I’m @courtcan, if you don’t already follow me.)

As I perused and pondered and proclaimed, I came across the above from Ginsberg. Now, you should probably know that I’ve never actually read any of Ginsberg’s works. I don’t know where his quote originated; I just added it to my collection at some point.

But for my purposes, the source doesn’t really matter. What gets me is that even after reading that quote years ago and feeling its message resonate with me, I still haven’t put it into practice as intensely or as effectively as I want to.

Confessing the Muttdom

My cultural background is a bizarre mixture of American, German, and Amerigerman. Or maybe Germerican, I’m not sure. But to muddle things even further, I’ve also got a religious-cultural background that both transcends and is inextricably entwined with the Amerigermerican stuff. I’m telling you, the term “cultural mutt” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Anyway, I grew up in a religious culture that taught me to “hide the madness.” Admit that I have a dark side? Ha! I didn’t even acknowledge that to myself until I was in my late 20s. Revealing that darkness to others has been out of the question — with very few and quite hush-hush exceptions.

That darkness inside me…dare I call it simple humannness? Isn’t it nothing more than the gritty frailty within every human heart? If each of us were honest with ourselves, wouldn’t we admit that we all harbor a streak of that inner moonlight?

Don’t we all harbor a streak of madness?

Outing the Madness

We hide it away. I hide it away. I tuck it away someplace safe, where no one can see it or challenge me on it. With my moonlight madness veiled from prying eyes, I don’t have to explain it.

I don’t have to defend it.

I can keep on pretending that I’m better than human.

It’s funny — I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately, long before I rediscovered the Ginsberg quote. I’ve been thinking these things in reference to blogging. Being genuine in blogging is difficult sometimes. It exposes me to criticism or even ridicule. It makes me vulnerable.

I struggle to write blog posts without worrying about who’s listening.

Following the Moonlight

I want to use Ginsberg’s words as a guide. I want to follow my inner moonlight and expose the madness and not care who sees or hears. If I hide the moonlight, I don’t connect with people. If I hide the moonlight, I communicate to my readers that they should be hiding their moonlight, too.

And if we’re all hiding the truth of our souls, then none of us are being genuine with each other.

When we hide, truth dies.

I want truth. I want the passion of self-revelation. I want every bit of the madness to shine forth as brilliant moonlight, so that others can see that it’s okay to be human.

I just want to be real.

And that’s WILAWriTWe.

3 Responses to “What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Allen Ginsberg”

  1. Joshua Unruh says:

    This is good, I needed to hear this. I’m still not sure HOW to do it, but this is one of the new goals for the blog. Let’s keep it real.

    • I needed to hear it, too, Josh. I’m still not sure how to do it, either. But I want to be deliberate about keeping it real. I want to be deliberate about making myself vulnerable, in spite of my fears and my instinct to hide instead! ; )

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