I was inspired to start writing a book a few weeks ago, I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. It’s like falling in love or making a new best friend…you want to pour all of your time and energy into it. Of course this doesn’t happen without a little slippage in other areas. There are still just 24 hours in a day, the creative Gods can’t give you more. This turns you into a criminal as you steal time from other parts of your life.
Time communicating with loved ones gets curtailed, the laundry and dirty dishes pile up and you resent any intrusions. Even the dog gets annoying with her whining about whatever dog woes she’s experiencing. Sorry Fluffy, I don’t have time to deal with your existential crisis right now…5 more pages and I’ll rub your belly. She just grunted at me as she plopped her large dog body onto her bed next to my desk.
It’s been a roller coaster these past few weeks. The peaks of creative spontaneity hammered down by the crushing blows of self doubt. Self doubt is the monster that lives in your head and tells you how terrible you are at everything. My self doubt has migrated from a tap on my shoulder to a hand around my throat and she’s squeezing pretty hard. I keep shaking her off and she comes back over an over again like the protagonist in a bad horror movie.
I went to a writer conference last August and attended a session on self doubt. The facilitator was Danny Gregory and he spoke about his book – Shut Your Monkey. https://dannygregorysblog.com/category/books/shut-your-monkey/ – Instead of a monkey, my take away from that day was to envision my self doubt as an elderly prairie dog named Ethel.
Ethel usually dons granny glasses and a knitted sweater vest. Sometimes she’s cute but lately she’s gotten more critical and suddenly she’s wearing a hockey mask and carrying a long sharp knife like Jason from Friday the 13th. She’s starting to scare me. I’d love to draw her for you but as Ethel as already reminded me several times today, I can’t draw for shit.
The worst part about this recent internal war is that I feel like I’m taking innocent people with me along for the ride. I have an illustrator that I’m working with and a handful of friends that are giving me feedback on my progress. Self doubt was bad enough when it was a solo act, now it feels indulgent. I mean it’s bad enough to spend time frivolously writing the hours away, now you want people to read it and comment. And dear Gawd that poor illustrator, she has a family and clients that pay her…real money.
Ethel: You can’t do this to people. It’s bad enough you waste your own time on this “hobby”. Now you are dragging your friends into this nonsense.
Me: Shut up Ethel you aren’t helping.
Ethel: It’s not like you’re even writing anything meaningful. Humor, who are you to write humor. What makes you think…..
….and that’s when I put a stick of Acme dynamite up Ethel’s ass and blew her up Wile E. Coyote style.