Tag: confidence

Why write?

My weekly writing afternoon at Donut Central today. Parasites on the TV. Discussions of mysterious connective tissue diseases at the table next to me. Hot desolate landscapes in my mind. What more could anyone desire?

I’ve been struggling a bit lately with fitting writing into my day. Sometimes it’s a question of having a busy schedule, but right now I think it’s indicative of a confidence problem. After all, if I’m optimistic, it’s easy. I’m writing toward a goal, toward publication, toward being a writer. Those are nice solid things.

But when the optimism’s gone? Then all I’m doing is using up time that could be better spent on more productive things.

I’m blessed with a supportive partner, one who insists that writing makes me a better person. It’s true. Writing helps me organize my world in some intangible and essential way. That, in and of itself, should be reason enough to write. The rest is window dressing.

Sometimes that’s easy to believe. Other times…not so much. It’s a question of finding balance, of accepting the moment, the experience, of reminding myself of the pure pleasure of waking up with a story to tell. That should be why I write, that should be why I challenge myself to do more, to try harder.

Unfortunately, knowing and accepting are two different things. In this issue, as in all others, I need to be content with being a work in progress.

Play me a song

I have a very low threshold for stimulation when I’m working, which includes music, particularly with lyrics. It’s amazing to me that other people can listen to words (yes, words being sung, but words nonetheless) while they write. It feels too potent to me, too easy to start weaving someone else’s story into whatever I’m writing.

But I find music incredibly helpful in other ways. There’s an Ani Difranco song, for example, that I use as a reminder of the value of a few carefully chosen details. I love to think about lyrics, about why a good song works. Detail, suggestion, just enough of a framework to make me want to fill in the rest on my own.

Over the holidays I watched a few rockumentaries for fun. There was another lesson there, in watching archival footage of fledgling musicians. One word, easy to remember. Confidence

I’m not talking about arrogance, or pretension, or perfection. I’m talking about someone picking up a guitar, someone who’s too shy to even look up at an audience, and playing what’s in them–strong, loud, clear. Saying, hey, listen to me, I have something to say, even if I haven’t totally figured out how to say it. A certain internal confidence, very different from the ability to be the life of the party.

It’s the same in writing. You have to own the page. Beyond all the rest, all the details of craft, there exists that individual spark that is voice. Finding it is not about learning to sound like anyone else, even those writers you love, the ones who will always leave a faint impression in your voice because they are part of the world of words for you.

It’s about stepping onto the stage and saying, listen up, my knees may be shaking, my hands may be sweaty, I may be rethinking doing this, but you’re here and I am and I have this piece inside of me that needs to be heard, and I’m going to share it in the truest way I know how. Listen.