Was it ever so evil, creep like ivyThat is from a lovely song by the Indigo Girls called 'Leeds' and it has been looping on my internal soundtrack all morning. All I can see is distance today because my fearful voices have been doing most of the talking so far. They say very demoralizing things, but I can't just ignore them out of hand because they occasionally make valid points and I try not to lie to myself overly much.
Toe hold on the stronger half of nature's dichotomy
Beating back a path through nothing more than pure insistence
Until here becomes the distance
We all have an assortment of fearful voices, for many people it's the only voice, and they are constantly telling us that we are unworthy, untalented, unlovable and foolish. Today my persistent fear that my book is not at all good is shouting down all my feeble arguments to the contrary. I know I'm not alone, anyone who creates something that depends on the affection of strangers to succeed fears that their product will be found unworthy.
That fear motivates some to improve their offering, but it pushes most into abandoning their creation altogether. I have been shouting down that fearful voice since the very first sentence in The Last Prospector, the one that kept skeptically asking why I thought this was useful expenditure of my time. It hounds me still, whispering that I am just a joke trying to pass off some scibblings as literature, that I have lofty pretensions that my talents cannot support.
Today it is very difficult not to listen, I have received almost no feedback from the people who have read The Last Prospector and that silence is louder than my fearful voice. Is it good? Is it bad? Or worse, is it boring? I don't know and that ignorance is a weight that is getting heavier to support every day.
This is not like cooking, my one native marketable skill. I've always known how to cook, that I can cook better than most and am extremely critical of my own food. But there's never been a voice telling me that I can't cook, that my flavors are dull or that everyone else is better at it than me. Even my culinary disasters, which are extensive, never brought out that fear. I just embraced those disasters as valuable learning experiences and did better next time.
If I had written a book about food or cooking, I most likely would not be suffering from too many fearful voices. The kitchen is my safe place, any kitchen, it's where I run when things become difficult. In fact, I have left this post three times so far to go and tend to culinary projects instead of fully confronting this obstacle.
Just writing about these fears is a breakthrough, I tend to project an air of confidence and do not like others to see the true depth of my well of self-doubt. It's not fraudulent confidence, for the most part, I grew up having to rely on me, to give myself pep talks and tell myself that I am capable of greatness and it's all worked pretty well.
So I don't listen exclusively to my fearful voices, there are loving voices too, adventurous voices and exuberant ones that deserve equal time. The good voices are what keep me going, keep me sending queries to bloggers despite the fact that I haven't received one single reply of any kind yet and keep me from retreating.
But today, all I see is the nothing, the distance that I still have to travel, as I fight the impulse to go back into the kitchen.