I’ve been reflecting on my own failings a lot recently but I tend to take little tiny baby steps to the overall realisation of what it is I am doing wrong. Easing myself into the tepid waters, so to speak. So, when reading the blog post by Tia Bach (author of Depression Cookies) for her Row80 update, I felt such a resonance with my own issue.
I’m not published as she is, which is what she refers to: the fear following one book being published (“can I repeat this?”), but I still have that fear of creating nagging at me. It’s something I’m loathe to verbalise and have only shared with a few, but now it’s out there. I’m sharing it, I’m breaking it down into bite sized chunks and imploring everyone to take a piece, if only to make the fear that little bit easier to manage.
I don’t worry about creating ideas, they seem to crowd me freely. They interrupt my sleep, walk with me in the daylight, hold me like a friend – they are tangible in many respects, and very much a part of who I am and what I know. I learn from them as I would from a real friend or family member. The ideas produce people I can relate to, people I can dislike, people I want to know more about… they have lives and passions far greater than mine. Or maybe they are my passions since writers put at least a little of themselves in every character.
No, it’s not the ideas that concern me. It is the creating. The expectation that, when the ideas are complete, I then have to make them pretty and presentable. I have to make them sound well structured and coherent, with perfect plots and authentic characters. I have to create something that will feel original – no cheap imitations here please. I want to be proud of what I create and I want anyone who may read it to be surprised that it came from me (this is more aimed at those that have known me for years and wouldn’t believe I could make it work).
But it’s that need to create something that I can be proud of that holds me back, throwing up obstacles that I find hard to dodge. I spend hours instead doing other meaningless things, despite the character’s journey enticing me, offering new solutions to previously unsolvable problems. They want me back. The characters in The Never Ending Story are unable to move forwards if Bastian does not continue to read, leaving them eternally suspended in fear of The Nothing; and I too leave my characters unable to fulfill their destiny because I show fear. I let pride prevent me from pushing through any roadblocks and I prove myself a failure before I even begin.
But that’s not what I want! I want to scream it. I want to shout to the world that I do not want to give up. There are too many things I want to write, there are so many journeys I can’t wait to take, and there is nothing else that I can see fulfilling me. If I remove my aspirations as an author, a publisher and teacher of the craft, then I have nothing. I’d feel hollow and alone. Without the blanket of words I shroud myself in, I have nothing but darkness – a bleak and unfulfilling emptiness that will consume me from the inside.
If I take that away from me, if I stop creating, I have no purpose or direction. I belong nowhere and will surely feel nothing as it is inspiration that always guides me.
Thank you to my good friend Rebecca Galardo at the Free Hippie shop who creates stamped talismans so that I can keep such reminders with me always. My current order will read: “Live by intuition and inspiration” which is from the quote:
Cease trying to work everything out with your minds. It will get you nowhere. Live by intuition and inspiration and let your whole life be Revelation.
— Eileen Caddy
If anyone has any other suggestions or mind tricks that will help me push through those horrible feelings when they’re at their worst, I’d greatly appreciate it.