A Writer's Journey Through Self-Doubt

January 28, 2018

     I've been thinking about launching my blog for quite some time now--

a mix of too busy and too vulnerable allowing me to store that thought into the far corners of my mind. However, putting other projects as well as self-doubt aside, as of late, I have been feeling the itch to write.

 

       A priest once told me that I am a "heady" woman, and at first I took offense to such a label, but the more I sat with it, the more I took it as a compliment. I'm a thinker, this is true--some say I overthink things (who me?)--but I'll take that label any day over the alternative. One could easily say that deep thinking comes with age, yet I believe I have always been this way. I love to discuss life: philosophy, religion, politics, pop culture, questions that bother us so, and what better way to get those ponderances out of my head than to put pen to paper (or in 2018, fingers to keyboard). I venture

to say that all writers are deep thinkers--over-thinkers--who write not to please others but to please themselves. For me, writing is an enterprise in self-discovery. Readers who enjoy my writing, I can only assume, take pleasure in the parts of my work that resonate with their own thoughts. As in life, we are attracted to those things in which we recognize a part of ourselves. 

 

Which brings me, in a round-about way to my topic of the day . . . self-discovery/self-doubt.

 

      This past month, while I was hunched over, rummaging around in the crawlspace, where a majority of my life sits housed in cardboard, I came across our old video camera and a bag of about 20 video cassette tapes with 5 years of my life captured on film. Never once have I watched those tapes......1) They have been inconveniently located and 2) They house bittersweet memories. 

Sadly, the tapes are not in the greatest of shape, either that or my video cam is shot (I'm hoping it's the latter). However, the bits and pieces of recordings that I was able to see, and sometimes hear, filled me with joy, with embarrassment, with angst. As I said, bittersweet memories of three precious children, smack dab in the middle of their raising by a parent who looks to be doing a half-way decent job but is far too serious for her outdated britches and, despite her youthful skin and undamaged hair, is clearly in need of a rest. The more I watch myself on screen, the more I discover who I am. And I don't always like what I see because I don't really see myself; I'm watching this person on screen move and interact and it just isn't me. I'm quick to judge. I am my worst critic: why did she say that? why on earth is she wearing that? what the heck is that expression on her face? Do you like to see yourself on screen? I can say with utmost certainty that I DO NOT LIKE TO SEE MYSELF because who I am--or who I THINK I am--is not who I see; this impostor fills me with self-doubt.

 

      The same goes for my writing. I don't normally like to read what I have written--even if it's something others think is "really good." If you are a writer, do you feel the same? Writing is my heart laid out bare for all to see; it's fresh and raw and vulnerable and takes a world of courage to put forth. If, upon reading my words, you feign delight, yet exhibit indifference, I politely take notice. If you are truly moved by my words and are kind enough to share, I am touched to my core. As with videos of myself, I am my worst critic. I am placated by the fact that every good writer I know is plagued by self-doubt. John Steinbeck wrote, "I am not a writer. I have been fooling myself and other people." He also said, "Sometimes, I seem to do a little good piece of work, but when it is done it slides into mediocrity.” (That book won the Pulitzer Prize) Leonardo DaVinci, in his

journal, wrote, "Tell me if I ever did a thing" and even Mister Hemingway was afflicted by doubt, admitting that he “rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.” 

 

I am leary of writers/artists who show no humility in regards to their work. How can they strive to improve if they think so highly of themselves? 

 

      One of my favorite authors, Garrison Keillor (yes, yes, I know) sums it up beautifully: "You should not think that you are somebody. Don't think too much of yourself. To have a strong sense of insecurity, of incapability, even of inferiority is a powerful engine for a creative person and pushes you forward. You do not ever want to be swamped with the regard of other people. I've gotten two good reviews in my life and that's all you need--ever. If you need praise, go back and read those reviews. You don't need anything else. There are no rewards that can mean more to you than one day of work in which you manage to surprise yourself . . . You want to be perpetually 25 years old, on the fringe, struggling with rejection. that's where you want to be. You don't want

to be 72 and distinguished; it does you no good whatsoever--none."

 

And so, as I launch this blog to any and all who are remotely interested in my various musings, I say, be patient with me. Every word I write, I write as a beginner, a beginner hoping for praise, expecting to grow, and humbly sharing a piece of my heart.

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