Dina L. Relles

writer. editor. curious + common.

So lately I’ve been inspired and terrified by all things NaNoWriMo (not doing it) and NaBloPoMo (not doing that either). And even though I’m not in a place where I feel ready to tackle these, it has me thinking about the way I write, the way I blog, and oh pretty much the way I do most things. And that is: with a healthy dose of overthinking and nail-biting. I’m starting to think I’m just an old dog, but in the spirit of all the writer bravery out there this month, and because we should never feel too set in our ways to try something new or buck our fear of change, I’m going to write this post free-form, without agenda or editing.

I started tapping these words after I stepped out of the shower, droplets of water falling from my hair onto the protective case of my iPhone. I continued on my laptop, and plan to type, type, type and then hit publish. All in one sitting.

And yes, it’s scary.

Maybe I’ll discover that I’m not a good writer. That I’m really an editor. Or maybe I’m just really crafty at using a thesaurus. Or that I need another word for really. Right about NOW.

That I’ll never be good enough to write a bad first draft and go from there.

That I’ve always wanted to be the kind of writer—the kind of PERSON—who doesn’t overthink, who doesn’t care so deeply about what other people think of her, what she’s wearing, how it fits, how it feels to walk down the street in it. I’ll just be walking, living, breathing, writing. Doing. Living. Crap, I already said living. Crap, I said crap. Did you know I curse a lot? I tend to edit out the expletives. But not today. Don’t look back. Keep moving. Forward. Onward. Oh my gosh, this is liberating, freeing. Maybe you’ve stopped reading—maybe I don’t care. Maybe I’m finally letting go. Of the fear, self-doubt. All of it.

I want to be one of those people who waltzes through life, not tripping on corners and curbs. Not miscalculating her steps—not calculating them at all. Because, oh my god, who calculates steps?? I learned how to walk 33 years ago and have been doing it every day since—I should be able to do at least that without such effort.

You know the people I’m talking about, though, right? The ones who never blowdry their hair because it’s naturally perfectly straight—but they’re nice enough to whisper in confidence that they ‘wish it were wavy like yours’ when you pay them a compliment. Their clothes hang off them just so, and…is this really what I’m writing about? When left to freely roam, my mind turns to self-consciousness and straight hair? Yup. Sometimes I think about that stuff. More than I care to admit. (That’s a funny phrase. Because aren’t you admitting whatever it is, even while saying you don’t care to?)

I want to be someone who doesn’t care what others think, but gives them something to think about.

The boys will be stirring soon. Is it wrong that part of me dreads when they wake? I’m just so protective of this time—these quiet early morning hours, this peaceful house. Before a single word is spoken in the day. Before we put our mark on its placid perfection.

I’ve always considered myself an extrovert. But now I willingly trade nights out for an early bedtime so that I may wake in the pre-dawn darkness and just be. Still. A function of parenting? Writing? Change? Are we always who we innately are? Or do we evolve and grow to become nearly unrecognizable versions of our former selves?

I’ve always thought that as we age, our idiosyncratic personality traits deepen. We become more intense versions of who we’ve always been. And so. I’m slightly troubled, but more intrigued, by my elusive extroversion. By my newfound desire for quiet and solitude above all. I suppose it’s just a function of the imbalance of it in my life right now. I’m still endlessly curious about people, but lately, prefer keeping them at arm’s length. Watching, observing, taking them in, but at a distance, not summoning the energy to interact.

(Hopefully you weren’t coming for any neat takeaways or profound conclusions today. Just musings here.) This is probably a one-time thing. I feel like I’m walking down Fifth Avenue naked. Stripped bare. Don’t look! Don’t read this drivel!

But it’s good for me to be more spontaneous and self-assured—in my writing, in my life. To let go, release. To not always be wound so tight. To not always be met with ‘wow, you need this’ in the chair massage at the nail salon (guilty pleasure—scratch that, just pleasure—look at me, offering qualifiers so you won’t judge. Oh I’m hopeless.).

So today, friends, I’m not editing. Not this post. Not myself. Not any of it. The curtains are down, the red pen is at rest. This is me. Raw and real. Take me as I am. Not airbrushed, not edited. Warts, typos, and all.

Because I worry sometimes about these carefully curated online presences of ours. Because vulnerability is a beautiful thing—perhaps one of best things we can offer each other in this all-too-anonymous world. Authenticity too. The currency of imperfect me-too-moments, traded in exchange for comfort and connection, friendship and reassurance.

Even if not quite this extreme stream-of-consciousness, I may start posting rougher, lighter, less polished, more spontaneous pieces every now and then—more riffs on my day, thoughts as they come, as I have them—not months in the making, hewn, hacked, hemmed and hawed. But fresh and true.

Alright. Go forth. Be you.


Disclaimer: The real me couldn’t hit ‘publish’ without giving this a once-over.

29 thoughts on “Me…Unscripted

  1. Yes to this. I love the stream of consciousness, and agree entirely with the notion that we become more intensely idiosyncratic versions of ourselves as we age. I’m basically a difficult hermit now. Fun, right? xoxo

    1. And see? I’m still wondering, when can we hang out? At least we’re true to ourselves 😉 xo

      1. omnimom says:

        I’m wondering the same thing about Lindsey…Apparently we *all* want to hang out with the difficult hermit.

      2. Well as the resident extrovert, I’m happy to host you all at my place anytime for some awkward conversation!

  2. omnimom says:

    AMAZING. And I knew you would give it a once-over ;).

  3. This was beautiful. I think we all wonder and wish about a life in which we weren’t so something. At least for me I imagine that I more in need of fixing or bettering than other people, whether it’s editing out all the unnecessary “just” and so” in my writing or the way I get so angry about right and wrong. I can’t imagine anything but good coming from experimenting with ignoring the fretting and critiquing of your own writing. I’ll be back for more!

    1. We are always hardest on ourselves, eh? Always in awe of your fierce ability to take a stand. Thanks for inspiring some writer bravery over here. xo

  4. Kristen says:

    Well, first off I’m happy to see your face! I love so much about this post, but especially this: “I want to be someone who doesn’t care what others think, but gives them something to think about.” If that isn’t my living truth right now, I don’t know what is. Do I execute it well? Definitely not. But isn’t it more fun when things are unedited and our flaws are revealed? I’ll be thinking about this one for a bit. (And I swear like a sailor, so you’re in good company.)

    1. Thanks, Kristen. I love how you put that–“isn’t it more fun when things are unedited and our flaws are revealed?” A resounding YES. Let’s f’in do this! 😉

  5. Anisha says:

    You go, girl! And idk if this is true of you, but as I’ve gotten older, my old extroversion has given way to a need for quiet and for space just to think and to be. It makes me wonder if the extroversion was because it was more socially acceptable, worked for me, etc. (Susan Cain writes about this in Quiet.) I like to think of myself now as an outgoing introvert — I love being around people, but I recharge by being on my own. Just a thought 🙂

    1. Thanks, Anisha! I’ve thought about that lately–outgoing introvert. Definitely intrigued. It’s hard to reconsider a core part of your self-perception, isn’t it? QUIET is on my list. Thanks for reading & commenting here!

  6. Nina Badzin says:

    Ha! Love that you had to look at it once. I’m so with you. Would be the same. We could call it Almost Stream of Consciousness. But it’s still a great writing exercise. I always admire the nano folks, but never do it. Mostly I’m overly concerned with cluttering inboxes and bloglovin, etc. It’s dumb and a convenient excuse. But I’m sticking to it.

    1. Almost Stream of Consciousness (or ASOC for short?)–love that. Yeah, I’m with you on the making dumb excuses part. For me, it was a combination of the overcluttering concern, feeling like my plate was full (HerStories class, among other things), and downright fear. But what I’ve learned from reading Amanda Magee daily is if people follow you & love your words, they will love them daily. Or take a break and come back when they wish. Even if not posting, I try to at least write every day–but next year, I hope to take the plunge. Let’s do it!

  7. This was brave and beautiful. I am an extrovert (ENFJ, to be precise) but I’ve been wondering if it’s motherhood that has brought out a sort of desperate, crazy introvert within me. Or maybe it is aging… I love these thoughts here- I am a big fan of the raw.

    1. I relate completely to the idea that motherhood may bring out the introvert in us. I’m more drained than ever by the constant presence of my little ones, so I crave peace and quiet more than anything else! But when I get it, I often run around like a fool filling the time or checking things off my list–desperate and crazy for sure 😉 So glad to have company.

  8. George Relles says:


    I label your latest writing as your entering your “Leaves of Grass” period. It’s hard sometimes to be spontaneous and self-revealing. I thought you shared a level of candor and vulnerability that is good to observe and much harder to emulate.

    Keep writing and I’ll keep reading! Best wishes.

    1. As a devout Walt Whitman fan, I’m flattered. Thank you, as always, for reading & commenting.

  9. This is fantastic!

    I absolutely love your posts – they are thought-provoking and beautiful. But this was also nice to read. An (almost) unedited piece by Dina. Don’t look back. Write. Curse. Let go of the fear. Write naked. 😉 This is you. And it’s brilliant.

    1. You’re the best–seriously, your comments leave me smiling for days. Thank you so much, friend.

  10. Lara says:

    I’m doing NaNo and failing miserably. So there’s that. I LOVE seeing this side of you. Your writing is always so polished and carefully executed, and if I didn’t love you I might actually be intimidated by your writing prowess. This has a little grit to it, and I love it. I might have to try this Almost Stream of Consciousness exercise. xo

  11. That you’re doing NaNo at all is an enormous accomplishment, regardless of what it yields. I’m sure I would drink in each gorgeous word–you are by far your own worst critic, as we all are. And I’m laughing…I assure you, I’m the least intimidating person you’ll ever meet. 😉 Thank you for these words, for the love…it helps me be brave. Sending it right back.

  12. tricia says:

    Ooooh I love this so much. Your words are beautiful whether edited or in a stream. Though I totally would have done a once over too. Can’t help myself either 🙂

  13. I loved your openness and could totally relate, as an extrovert, sometimes swearing more than I should, mom of three too. I discovered your writing on scary mommy and linked over to your blog – love your authenticity and expression of what so many of us feel. Thank you for writing and sharing.

  14. Thank *you.* So nice to connect–sounds like we have a lot in common. 😉

  15. mimisy4 says:

    Loved this Dina! And your writing is so beautiful it doesn’t matter if you’ve edited or riffed! 😉

  16. Dakota says:

    “So today, friends, I’m not editing. Not this post. Not myself. Not any of it. The curtains are down, the red pen is at rest. This is me. Raw and real. Take me as I am. Not airbrushed, not edited. Warts, typos, and all.”

    Oh my goodness, yes, THIS, right here. I recently typed out “These words are from my naked heart. Will you help me?” on a blog post and then immediately wanted to take it back. Because it was raw, and too vulnerable, and I cried as I tapped on the keys. It’s so effing scary. (Yes, I use – and edit – out my curse words too.)

    Love your blog – I’m looking forward to reading more. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! I’m so glad you could relate. I just enjoyed checking out your blog–I’ll be back for more. Happy to find you.

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