“It seems that the necessary thing to do is not to fear mistakes, to plunge in, to do the best that one can, hoping to learn enough from blunders to correct them eventually.” (Maslow)

I found myself, the other day, staring blankly at the computer screen for about an hour.  Really.  No tapping of keys, rapid or slow.  Nothing.   There was a major change I thought I wanted to make in my manuscript, but the ‘what if’s’ had caught me.  What if I’d be better off leaving it as it is?  What if I’m not talented enough or skilled enough to pull off what I want to do?  What if I really can’t write at all, and would be better off adopting a dream of becoming a hotel room cleaning person, or something?  What if I’m like one of those poor misguided souls who show up on American Idol, unable to sing a note and thoroughly convinced that they are the best writer..uh… singer in the world while everybody is secretly laughing at them?  What then?

I will say that while this war raged in my head, I did stick firmly to the computer screen – no errant quests to wash the cats or collect deer fur caught on brambles and spin it into yarn, or other adventures of that nature.  Not a lot of writing happened, but I’m proud that I at least did not give up and walk away.

In this current economy, it’s easy to fall into hopelessness about ever being published (as though it was difficult to accomplish feeling hopeless before!)  Not to mention the ongoing mind battle about whether or not I have any business writing in the first place and the subtle feeling that perhaps I am desecrating the Art with my awkward efforts.  As writers, I believe this is where the battles are fought – in our heads.  We are warriors of a sort, but it all happens on location – no trips to foreign territory for us, and nobody will ever see or celebrate the battles that we fight.  No Bard’s tales sung before the fire of the Great Writer’s Battle with Despair.   That doesn’t make them any less.  For whatever reason, we feel called to write, to tell the stories as they come into our minds.  And our greatest enemy is – ourselves.  Sure, call it the Critic, or the Editor, but it’s you talking, saying things you would never dream of saying to somebody else.  (Well, okay, maybe some of you are mean, horrible people, and would walk up to another writer and tell them how hopeless they are and that they’d be better to give up now and burn every word they’ve ever written, I don’t know you.  It’s possible.)  Why, oh why, do we think it’s okay to talk to ourselves this way?

We do it, I believe, because we are afraid.  Our internal editors and critics aren’t really being mean,  they have our best interests at heart.  They fear we are wasting our time, or making fools of ourselves, or exposing vulnerable places we’d be better to keep concealed.  

They need to get over themselves.

Face the fear, say I.  Write on.  Take risks.  Never, ever, give up.

This weekend, even with Christmas rapidly approaching and me woefully unprepared; with sweeping changes on the home front and the work front that have left me feeling bloody and battered and insufficient to the challenge of anything, I persist in proclaiming the weekend writing challenge.  I will continue to experiment with the revisions in Chapter Two of Swimming North.  I will explore, and then make decisions and press on.  That’s it for me, just a small chunk.  Revision of one chapter.  Oh – and finishing the polishing of my synopsis.

Who’s with me?