Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nothing to Fear Except Everything That Scares Me

There are so many quotes about writing that one could probably put together an entire book of them. (Wait, has that been done yet? If not, DIBS!) One thing writers love to talk about is, well, writing. (I suppose it's just as an archaeologist would love to talk about fossils or a botanist would love to talk about plants or a politician would love to talk about themselves... it's all in what you do.) While I know some people find it annoying, I personally find it to be helpful. Because more often than not, someone has already said the very thing that I'm feeling, and they were able to put it into words... something I can't do, which clearly means I've failed as a writer. But that's neither here nor there.

One of the emails I get daily (alongside a bajillion junk mail lists I'm too lazy to remove myself from) is an "Advice to Writers" quote-a-day thinger which I always read. Some are lame, some are boring, some are long-winded, and some make me nod along in agreement.

This one made me stop and stare at my screen for a while.

I'll level with you. I have no idea who Richard Rhodes is. But this quote captured the message of one of the constant critics in my head: who the hell am I, that I think anyone would care what I have to say? What could I possibly bring to the table? Everyone out there is better than me, wittier than me, more eloquent than me. It doesn't matter that you've been wanting to do this your whole life. It doesn't matter that, as a ten year old, when your classmates wanted to be doctors and lawyers and astronauts and movie stars, you wanted to be a published novelist. None of that matters, because you suck.

My head is a pleasant place to be.

Other people have commented that it seems like everyone they know wants to be a writer. Every once in a while I will take the time to remind them (and myself) that, hey, it seems that way because we've all gravitated toward a circle of like-minded individuals. Guess what bloggers are? WRITERS. So if you're basing your survey sample on the people you associate with, it's going to be skewed. So when it seems like everyone I know and read about is trying to be a writer... it's because I'm friends with them BECAUSE they are a writer. That's how I found them. That's how we bonded.

(Or, y'know. Maybe everyone DOES want to be a writer. I don't know.)

I have a million quotes piled away on the subject of comparing yourself to others and why that's stupid (perhaps I will make little graphical lovelies out of those, too) and I know better. I KNOW BETTER. But I can't help it. I envy the writers who have a clear voice, who know their way around a paragraph, who write so well that it inspires jealousy in others like myself. I'm jealous of the bloggers who write so well that I can't bring myself to "mark all as read" when my Reader is overflowing. I'm jealous of every single person who has published a book or at least finished something that could even be SENT to a publisher to review.

Maybe it's not an inferiority complex, though. Maybe, as the mysterious Mr. Rhodes suggests, it's fear. (Fear of being inferior?) Fear of finishing something and THEN having it not be good enough. Fear of realizing that I DID actually suck all along. Fear of writing some shit like Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight and having the entirety of the Internet rip it apart (though, really, if I managed to make that much money off of something I wrote, I might find myself caring a lot less about what the Internet thinks.) Fear that I'll never do it, I'll never finish anything, I'll never be what I wanted to be.

Fear is overwhelming, and that sense of being overwhelmed is often what keeps me from even opening up a document in the first place. I don't have writer's block. I have ideas. Lots of ideas. Getting started is hard, sure, but the best way to tackle it is just to start.

I've just been too afraid to do so... because if I don't start, I can't screw it up. It's failing by default, but that's not the point. The point is... oh, I don't know. Identifying the problem was easier than I would have thought. Doing something about it? That's the hard part.

If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is.  Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me if I do? You're a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle. - Richard Rhodes


chimes said...

Guess what? You *are* a writer. By the simple act of writing, you actually become a writer.

And yeah, there's a difference between a trained writer, a writer who has that as their full-time job and us bloggers, but the more you flex your muscle, the better you become, and the more you permeate the interwebs with your writing, the chances are you'll be noticed and potentially hired to write.

So doing things like TH is a great thing. Offering to do guest posts is great.

I didn't really set my sights on writing, but it kind of happened. It's part of my job now, and I have a few regular guest spots (some are paid).

(side note, you'd get more comments if you disabled captcha).

terra said...

I've been thinking a lot lately about all the things I want to be, about the kind of person I want to be, one who walks the dogs more regularly and one who eats better foods and one who works out regularly without coming up with 45 excuses, and really, it's all mine to be. There's no one limiting me except for myself and sure, with being a writer or whatever it takes other people to publish your work and stuff, but if you don't try, if you don't at least throw yourself out there, then it definitely won't happen.

ameena said...

thank you so much for this. i needed to be reminded that i think everyone wants to be a writer because i have surrounded myself with writers. and that that is a good thing.