Or things writers think about themselves.
I’ve been writing for a few years now. I’ve been published, I have other books ready to be published. People have read my work, they tell me it’s good, but yet I still hear that small voice whisper in my ear. “Sonia, people are going to find out you’re a fake. You can’t write.”
“Those who write are writers. Those who wait are waiters.”
― A. Lee Martinez
We writers are a perplexing sort, we like to sit at our desks, fingers poised over a keyboard, and ponder. We create worlds with words, people out of thin air, action while we barely move for hours, all the while our brains hum with ideas and creativity itching to be revealed.
But yet a still small voice echo’s in our ears.
You have no idea what you are doing, so give it up now.
My third grade teacher comes to mind. Bees buzzed about her gray hair which wound around her head like a hive, at least that’s what my nine-year-old self thought. In reality, she was a spent old lady who lived above the town’s funeral home. She wore alligator shoes which always matched her alligator purse. Time had passed her by, modern teaching landed at her school, and she wasn’t on board. I happened to have her the last year she taught. The school wanted her out, and she wasn’t budging.
Of course I see all this now, but at the time she was terrifying, fiery, tight-lipped, and tired. She once pulled Tommy by the ear from the slide, and her jaw always twitched when we didn’t answer fast enough.
Then there was me.
Me she locked in a broom closet because I wouldn’t stop talking. I sat in the dark, listening as the class filed out to catch their buses home.
My teacher had forgotten about me, and I was too afraid to come out of that closet.
My mother, a teacher herself at a different school, came and found me hours later. I’m sure now-a-day’s my story would be on the six o’clock news, and our family would have sued, but it was the 1970’s, and no real physical harm had been done, but perhaps some mental.
That teacher’s voice still besieges me when those self-doubts arise.
Everyone, whether we write, paint, or make fantastic music, all have those voices. Voices, real or imaginary, telling us we’re no good, that we don’t have a clue how to form a sentence, paint a masterpiece, or create beauty.
The trick is to squish those whispers. Dig deep into your own reasoning and get to the heart of what we really are afraid of…
—Embarrassment, and failure —
We are prideful; we fear the eyes of men. We fear ridicule, and we fear losing our position.
Once we name our fear, the voices aren’t so loud. I mean, what’s the worst thing that can happen to you? For me, I’ve already been locked in a broom closet for three hours. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen any time soon. Realizing other’s hold the same anxieties, the same doubts, questions, and worries is energizing.
“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”
― Lloyd Alexander
Failure is part of improving.
We will fail – count on it, but from the disaster comes beauty, a chance to learn, a chance to grow, and a reason to create. We must strive to risk discomfort and disappointment for the chance to share our world with others. In this, we hope others will cherish our thoughts and that it might one day touch someone’s soul.
So to answer the question, do I know what I’m doing?
Not always, but I can tell my story. It is mine to tell. I won’t let anyone steal my joy. And as for the other question, “Am I a fake?”
No, I’m a writer. I write.