This is my first writing session of 2016. Shame on me.
(Not really. After my intense writing-sprint to finish novel draft # 2 by Christmas Eve, I needed a break.)
Come to think of it, why do people use the phrase “shame on me” after they have committed a wrong or perceived wrong? Same for “shame on you.” Whether it’s a social faux pas or actual wrong, those are actions, not someone’s state of being.
Brené Brown links guilt with wrong actions and shame with our selves. What we’ve done is different from who we are. (Though our character gives rise to action, of course.) David Corbett, a Writer Unboxed blogger, goes a bit deeper by showing that fear is at the basis of both guilt and shame. (Wonderful post, BTW. If you’re a novelist, you need to read this.)
In shame, I “fear being shunned by those I look to for support, respect, and love.”
In guilt, I “fear being punished for something that violates a moral code.”
(Note: The moral code can be relative. A gang member’s code of morals is far different from mine. And where our personal/cultural moral code doesn’t line up with the absolute moral law of God, then we’re both wrong. Note, too, that fearing punishment isn’t the same as being convicted of the inherent wrongness of one’s actions, as traditional Christianity understands it.)
So, back to my slip of the pen: shame on me for not writing for over a week and for not blogging for who-knows-how-many weeks. If my moral code dictates that I write every day and blog three times a week, then, yes, I’ve violated it. I’m guilty.
The root fear isn’t being shunned by my readers, as I doubt that they’ve noticed my absence in the midst of their own hectic holidays. (Besides, y’all are the forgiving types. I hope.)
The fear is being punished by myself for violating my own arbitrarily determined moral code. The self-punishment may range from lack of publication opportunities to writer’s block. (That doesn’t appear to be an issue at this moment, does it?) All of this has nothing to do with me as a human being or me as a writer-being.
“Shame on me”? More like “guilt on me.”
Anyway, welcome to 2016, everyone. It should be an interesting year.