Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Doubt, A Writer's Worst Enemy


Self- sabotage. Check that. Perhaps it is just ennui, or is it more than a lack of interest? Maybe it’s simple melancholy. Not so simple as the impact is so... what? Impactful?

It could also be that I have too much apple wine in my belly and I should just relax, let my mind drift and get on with this some other time.

Damn those Storm Troopers! Sabotage again!
But when something is inside and it needs to get out, then where can you find peace and rest? I have no answer, so I will drive on with no clear direction, no sights to see, no end point that I want to arrive at, and only vague discontent to guide me.

I wrote Monday about my project list. I was late writing, late posting, and my thinking was fuzzy and distracted. I did not have anything worked out before I sat down in front of the screen, much like this post. I kept thinking I knew what I wanted to say, that the words would flow and when they didn’t I thought, I have time. That is often the biggest lie we tell ourselves.

Time? Yeah, right.

I was full of thoughts when I arrived at work, not yet having written anything, with those hurly-burly thoughts and what I believed an hour of free time before anyone else arrived. Not so. The hurly-burly remained frantic and tangled, flat and confused. And unlike most mornings, showing up to work an hour early did not give me time, and it did not give me alone time.

One of the housekeepers was there and we talked but I still had time. I wanted to write about my projects, I know them inside out. It wouldn’t be hard so I talked. Then she left and though I had only fifteen minutes, I thought that was enough. Then my co-worker showed up and I was still staring at the screen because there was no there, there. I had my thoughts, I had no way of getting them out coherently. I was sweating a bit. Then more talking, less time, the day was getting on.

I squeezed a few words in between comments and quips and conversation about the weekend. The words were just not coming. Time was slipping. I had no snap, no clever stories. I was lost and wanting for the first time in weeks to just get the post done and out.

So I finished. Just ended the post, an aborted mess I was not proud of posting but there was more need to get something that I sacrificed quality. I didn’t care if it was read. I almost hoped it wasn’t.

Then, as I was writing this post, I wondered if I wasn’t in some way trying to fail, at least subconsciously. To step into the public view is not easy; to do so with this level of instant feedback, even overwhelmingly positive feedback, is daunting. Writing has always been private and when it’s public, well, escape is on the mind. Lurking.

One thing, though, the thing that was positive about yesterday’s post, was a renewed commitment to what is really important; writing. Even if my post was no hot-shakes, it did give me a focus I was in danger of losing. So:

  • Writing, if that is what you want to do, trumps all. What people think, that doesn’t matter as long you get your words on the page.
  • Time is not on your side. Write. Write when you have the time. Write when you don’t.
  • There are roadblocks in life, enough roadblocks that it is unnecessary to invent more to through in your own path.


It’s forgivable to have a bad day, to feel doubt. What's unforgivable is to allow a bad day to grow into more than what it is, to allow that bad day to infect your underlying purpose.

Back at it then, and no looking back.

And tomorrow? I can tell everyone about brown bread in a can and how, when you use the hand can opener, it seems to make a noise like a fart. Not appealing, but true. There’s time tomorrow for that, right? Or something else. As long as I write.

4 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

Thanks for the follow on Twitter, Mike. I stopped by to follow your blog as well.

Cool to meet you!

MT Nickerson said...

Nice to meet you, too, Matthew. Thanks for the follow and welcome!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

You may have doubt, but you make me smile. Been there, repeatedly.
Don't sweat it.

MT Nickerson said...

No sweating, Julia. A blip, I hope, as life kicked me in the nether regions on a Monday morning. All better now- still writing, still happily going about life, still poor but feeling enriched by the people surrounding me...