Nov. 3rd, 2016

jakebe: (Reading Rabbit)
Word Count: 1,712.

As always, the thing that's stopping me from writing most is fear. I'm worried that even my most basic story ideas are beyond my technical reach, and that when I start putting stuff out there people will realize that I'm essentially a fraud. I worry that I'm nowhere near as good as I would like to be, and that I don't even have the potential to get there. I worry that when I finish a short story, it will be incontrovertible proof that there's a fundamental piece I'm missing that means I will never be able to be a writer.

Typing that out makes me realize just how intimately tied the act of writing is to my anxiety. All of my worst fears, all of the biggest catastrophes for my self-image, they're all tied up in this. I want to be a good writer, almost more than anything -- but I'm too afraid of what happens when I actually write. What if my story is stupid and derivative -- or worse, somehow offensive? What if my attempts to write about my experience and background comes off as trying to capitalize on the stereotypical image of the poor, emotionally-starved black man? What if I've cut myself off from my background too much to be able to tap into it authentically? What happens when I try to reconnect with it -- is it too late?

It's hard to navigate a path through these anxieties or channel them in a way that ends up with a finished work on the page. But I keep trying because I honestly don't know how to stop. I love writing, and I can't imagine not doing it. But I can't continue to leave a trail of half-finished stories or wasted ideas in my wake. Something has to change, and since I can't stop I have to figure out how to make this work.

I keep reminding myself of the advice given by Ira Glass -- that most of us who are starting out with any creative field get into it because we love it, and we have some idea of what makes it good. But we're just not able to pull off that really great stuff yet. It's difficult to be smart enough to deconstruct a story, but not yet practiced enough to put the pieces together in a way the seams don't show. But that's where I am.

I have to reset my expectations of success for now. I won't be able to create a seamless story right now -- my command of the craft just isn't that good. But what I can do is do my best to make the stitching straight and true, to make sure the story doesn't tear apart under the slightest pressure, or to turn the obvious stitching into a feature, to make it artful and incorporate it into the design. I think that's my way out of this fear-based paralysis. I hope so, anyway.

Tonight, I'll want to have finished the first scene for my urban werewolf story and have taken my Social Psychology "midterm". That would be good.

November 2016

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