Friday, October 31, 2014

Of Fruit Flies and a "Writer's" Self-Doubt

Yessssssssssssssss!! YESSSSSSS! I screamed and hoped none of the neighbors heard me in my ecstatic state.

In as much as I'd like to keep you thinking that there is shock value to this post, let me stop you right here and sanitize whatever's going through your mind.

Sanitize...An interesting choice of words considering that what I'm talking about here is this fruit fly on my palm, squashed and definitely beyond dead. I just had to take a photo first before washing my hands. Why wouldn't I? I feel like I need to remember this moment, bask in this triumph, when huge mammal triumphed over pesky insect.


Now don't feel so sorry for the little guy. Please know that it has tormented me for a couple of weeks now. Numerous times I chased it around and thought I had killed it, only for it to taunt me even more as it flies away from the surface where I thought I had already smashed it. It has driven me ABSOLUTELY. INSANE!

So you can understand why I wasn't able to contain myself when I finally had proof that I had killed it. I watched it fly above me. I studied its pattern. And then very, very carefully and with as much precision as I had in me, I positioned my palms and then WHACK! It was as if I had simultaneously carried out my mission and high-five'd myself. Two birds with one stone!

How could I let such a small creature get to me? How could something so seemingly inconspicuous bother me so much? 

The obvious answer of course is that, though small, I felt as if it was constantly there to bother me. I would see and sense it just when I'm trying to be still or enjoy something like a nice meal or a riveting show on television. I felt like it was perpetually hovering around me, mocking me, knowing that I'd never catch it.

I can't help but think that metaphorically, this fruit fly behaved much like certain thoughts I can't rid myself of, no matter how hard and how often I try to smash them; a voice that hovers to mock and undermine my efforts...

The voice that says I am fake and that I am not a writer and will never truly become one. I'm part of blogging groups where a lot of the other writers are published in print, or have been compensated for their writing. This hasn't really happened to me unless you count that time when I was 17 when a women's magazine in the Philippines published a love essay I submitted and actually sent me a check for it. Or those academic articles / researches that got published and for which I was naturally compensated. Do those count? I'm not so sure.

The voice that constantly whispers that there is nothing I can write about that hasn't already been said. Why make the effort? Why even try? The voice further says, "What makes you think your voice is any better than anyone who has already spoken, and that people would be interested to listen to your insipid point of view?"

The voice that further adds, "Are there even people listening, reading you, because you truly captured their attention and not just because they're your friends and feel sorry for you, or feel obligated? Heck, not even your own family reads you!" And then this is followed by an evil laugh, with a sigh of resignation.

These thoughts torment me. I can only wish they were as easy to squash, FOR GOOD, as the fruit fly. Sure, every now and then I'm able to silence the voice and give myself a well-deserved high-five. But only for it to come back a few days later and incapacitate me all over again.

If there are other writers out there reading this --- yes, humor me and allow me to pretend that such a thing can truly happen -- I'd like to know if you hear similar voices too. Better yet, maybe you can give me some advice as to how to catch this insidious pest and smash it for good. Maybe then I can really let out a resounding 'YESSSSSS!' and not care at all if my neighbors hear me.












22 comments:

  1. I have to admit that i haven't heard those voices--maybe because I started writing at 16, studied it in school and had a whole career involving it. That doesn't mean I don't have my own insecurities about other things. But I try to shake them off and keep moving forward. And that would be my advice to anyone.
    Carol
    www.carolcassara.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ignore the fly and keep moving forward :-)) New mantra, Carol. Thanks!

      Delete
  2. OH yes. I know exactly how you feel. What I try to remember is that even though everything has already been said, it hasn't been said in my voice. Your voice is good! Use it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your confidence in me. I REALLY appreciate it, Sharon! xoxo

      Delete
  3. Hands down the most hilarious and engaging lead-in you've written thus far.

    OK, I'm not a writer, but I'll weigh in just the same. You've been published on HuffPo a number of times, haven't you? By "published" do you mean novels? Is compensation the only gauge, the black belt of writing? (Congratulations again to your son, by the way.) Writer's doubt is as common as writer's block, I think. I'm a member (inactive and lazy, granted) of author Jeff Goin's Facebook group, which is supposed to provide a forum for writers and prompt us to write 500 words a day. You can bet wherever writers are gathered, there will be posts about doubt.

    I think we could look at writing not as a status we achieve—"I am a Writer!" but as the path we've chosen. To use a different art form: I've been teaching dance for eight years, but have always doubted by legitimacy because the training I received was limited to a local studio. Well, I faced my "shame" last week and signed up for lessons with a renowned Russian dance teacher/choreographer. We will perform at a showcase (for adults we never say 'recital', hehe) in early February. You know what? I feel like a real DANCER now—and the first lesson isn't even until next Tuesday. But this is the path I've chosen. There are major sacrifices I will make. Apart from the physical pain and exhaustion, the financial hardship will be real. The mental pressure will be there. And I will push on. Dance will take from me everything I am willing to give it. I will be worn out, drained, sweaty, unglamorous after each rehearsal, but like the Velveteen Rabbit, I'll finally be real. If we give ourselves to our art, we can legitimately claim to be artists.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Cookie! Glad you liked the lead-in.

      But wait....YOU, not a writer???????? DUH! Every time I read your blog posts, I'm beyond impressed and envious of how skillfully your handle your words. And you get paid to write and feature businesses!! So please don't ever say you are not a writer. You are being too modest, dear mentor!

      I love every bit of wisdom you wrote about. I'm telling you. Every single time you've given me advice, it ALWAYS MAKES SENSE and touches me to the core. I loved that you mentioned the Velveteen Rabbit and reminded me of how we become real. We do get tattered, don't we, when we give it our all? And of course, when we love what we do, then it becomes real too. And how can something real come out of something unreal? That means we are real. Real dancers or writers, etc. It is a journey, a path we choose and every step does make us even more real.

      THANK YOU THANK YOU for all your wisdom and for always being so generous with me! xoxoxoxoox

      Delete
  4. First of all, I think that you are a great writer, and I always enjoy reading your posts. These same doubts are what kept me from starting my blog. I finally decided that I needed to write for me, and if anyone read it, that would be a bonus. No matter how many times something may have been said, it hasn't been written with your unique perspective, so that makes it fresh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thank you Lana/ Abby. Btw, how do you want me to call you? hahaha... I always use both since I know you use both in different groups. But names aside, I appreciate you and am grateful for your belief in me, and for reading my thoughts. You are right. Our voice is always unique. Thank you, my friend! *hugs*

      Delete
  5. I want you to know that you're a damned good writer! You're more than that, you're extremely talented. My only problem is that sometimes you're a bit too cerebral and you tend to be wordy. But you have the chops and some day I'm sure we will see you published.I have been in critique groups for the last twenty-one years and have written eight books, only one of which (for someone else) has been published. This coming year, I am sure, the same as every other year, I will see at least one of my books in print.
    Right now, my doubts are madly buzzing around my head with some of the same questions you are asking yourself. If I publish Don't Hang Up! who on earth is going to want to read it? Today I was on the phone with my editor Larry who has suggested new changes and cuts to the new version of the first six chapters of this book. Will this book ever get published? I'm getting on age wise, and many of my fellow authors published their books years ago. I did ghostwrite a book for someone and so far it's got some great reviews on Amazon. I an finishing rewriting another book (the 11th draft), a historical novel, the first in a trilogy that I have been working on for two decades, and I know for sure this book is a winner. So what is the matter with me? Why aren't I published yet? It's embarrassing to answer that question - or avoid it. The good thing is I love writing, I love rewriting and editing, and writing has made my life complete and fulfilling. I think I may take the plunge finally in 2015 with both books but I'm running out of time with the rest. So good luck to you and don't waste time with your doubts - or fruit flies. Pennie (as usual the only way I can publish this is as Unknown)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pennie, your thoughts (and opinions) are priceless. Please know how grateful I am!!

      Yes, I get too caught up in my cerebral world and words at times, haha...Guilty. I have been working on that and believe me, I think I've improved in the last year. I hope.

      I can't wait for Don't Hang Up! I am CERTAIN it will happen soon. I can't even imagine the amount of discipline involved in writing a book, one that I'm not sure I have. And I'm saying that objectively. Maybe being part of an anthology is a good enough objective for now....keeping fingers crossed. THANKS AGAIN....xoxox

      Delete
  6. I write for me, Joy. Obviously being read is nice, but that's not guaranteed, right? I don't care. Writing is not a beauty contest. I will just keep going.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoy reading you, Muriel, so please don't stop. Thanks for your thoughts. You're absolutely right!

      Delete
  7. Talk about pesky fruit flies! And self-doubts. I have over two decades of doubts holding me back. My writing is never good enough. Who on earth is going to want to read Don't Hang Up! My fiction novel is so much better - if I ever finish it - I'm on the 11th draft.
    You're a very talented writer and I think that doubts are the misfortune of some of the most talented writers I know who literally doubt themselves to death. So keep going, whatever your doubts are, and we will keep cheering you on. Pennie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks again and let's cheer each other on, Pennie!

      Delete
  8. I understand the feeling of "who is really reading me?"--it's hard to be one writer in a sea of other voices. But ultimately, I think we have to believe that our words reach out to at least some people, and that must be enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so true, Karen. And if we could only touch one person, and make some difference, then that's really more rewarding than a hundred likes or visits. Good perspective! Thank you :-)

      Delete
  9. Unfortunately I know only too well. My parents were not supportive and made me feel writing was a waste of time...no money equals wasted effort. I let those voices control the muse for many years. When I finally started writing more I would hear, "Who do you think you are? A writer? Well you aren't. You should have been writing all these years, now it is too late"
    I still don't think I can write, but I do it anyway....because I love it. Thank you for this post...I feel a kinship

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now is the time, Donna. If you've set your self aside all these years, then now is the time to attend to it and allow it to go where it needs to, towards what it (you) love/s most. Thank you for your thoughts. You have made me feel less alone. I mean it. xoxo

      Delete
  10. Oh yes do I understand this feeling! Too well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good to know I'm in great company. Thanks, Nina! :-)

      Delete
  11. I've read the words you have typed - and you are a writer! If you can figure out how to squash (for good) those thoughts, please let me know!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your kind words, Susan. Once I unlock it, I'll surely let you know! :-))

      Delete

Let me know your thoughts!