A writer’s inspiration is cyclical. At least mine is. As you find your voice and attempt to refine your discipline, you become aware of your own cycle; hopefully, you adapt. Or at least try to. The never-ending story of a creative artist, isn’t it?
I am a writer.
When asked who I am and what I do, I respond unequivocally, “I am a writer.” And I naturally dread the follow-up question, which is usually an unintentionally snide, “And what have you written?” or “Anything I’ve seen?”
To be honest, I think if (and when) (hey, a girl has to remain positive) I am a reputed author, those questions will still give me diarrhea. It’s who we are. It’s what makes us writers. We are insecure messes at heart who write because we love to write. And deep down, there is a geek inside of us who longs to prove, and will always long to prove, who we are—no matter how successful we become. Them’s the facts, and that’s all there is to it.
I sometimes think I’m different than most. Most other writers, that is. But that’s really just a defense mechanism. Because I’m even afraid of failure in front of the eyes of my peers. Which is a sad thing, really. I’m quick to say, “I’m left out” or “I’m isolated” when I’m the one leaving myself out, isolating myself; I’m here floating on my island with headphones on, listening to Barry Manilow as loudly as I can and crying on the inside. Smiling and posing on the outside. I’m okay. I’m all right. I’m a strong girl, yo. I don’t need anybody. I’m okay on my own. I know what I’m doing.
No, I don’t. No, I’m not. What a crock of shit.
What keeps us going? Motivated? Moving? Able to move blindly in a sea of darkness? Encouragement. Friendship. Acceptance of an outreached hand. All of which I’ve had in spades. Yet, for messed up reasons only that therapist from a long time ago and I probably know, I have to think aren’t there. I guess that’s a symptom of fear. A defense mechanism. It’s easier to fail when you don’t give it your all, or accept the path in front of you, isn’t it? So why the fear? Why am I afraid? Why in every aspect of my life do I fight? Why do I let fear take over me? Why, in every aspect of my life, do I let it freeze me? I’m not twenty-five years old anymore. My life is over half over. Well, over half over. And I cower in fear. Not just in my writing and creative aspirations, but in everything. Have I allowed others to do this to me? Did I do this to myself a long time ago? Why am I so scared? Why am I afraid of success? Why am I afraid of happiness? Why do I think I’m not deserving?
I can count on my cycle of creativity as soundly as I can the cycle of my entire frame of mind. Year after year it’s always the same. And entering the end of summer, it’s always the same. I get the spark. I feel creative, I feel the need to express, to write, to share. It’s those few months until my black period. When the depression really rears its ugly head in the dawn of winter. And all is gone. All is lost. But I guess that’s an excuse as well. Saying that, am I too hard on myself? Do I punish myself? I surely can’t be the only one.
So, in this upswing of creativity, the ideas have been swirling. So many thoughts, so many ideas, so many places I want to visit, to write about. Almost too many. So many that I become overwhelmed. And worse, when inspired to write, I begin to feel guilty for wanting to write. I feel guilty because as a single mother who is in debt and barely able to make ends meet — no, make that not able to make ends meet, with other responsibilities just to put food on the table, and other responsibilities promised to others, writing seems to be selfish. Is writing selfish? Is it a selfish folly that I’ll never see through, never finish? Should leave behind? I am torn. I am torn because I am a writer. I am torn because it’s all I’ve ever wanted, and all I’ve ever wanted others to help me with my focus to be, and what I’ve dreamed of for decades. But what kind of mother am I for not being able to put a meal consistently on the table for doing it? Is it just a hobby? Is it just something I think I’m good at doing? Is it something I want, but will never be able to find the discipline to truly make a living with?
I do make a somewhat living with writing. Just not the kind that I dream of. I write press releases. Marketing stuff. Copy for businesses. But it isn’t what I want. It isn’t what I need to make me happy. It doesn’t complete me. But I don’t feel free. I don’t feel that I’m worthy enough or free enough to be able to do what I want. I don’t feel deserving. And I certainly don’t feel secure.
I spent the better part of my day writing an essay for a contest. Silly, but true. I made the mistake—or perhaps the wise decision—of going back and reading through the words of past winners of said contest. Words…that I cannot even express how deeply they moved me. Serious, true, deep, raw words that moved me to tears. Not just tears. But sobs. And I feel it important to express, that I am not a crier. I do not cry. I do not tell people that what they wrote made me cry, or blah blah blah. I don’t cry easily at sad movies, I’m the freaking ice queen. I read two stories tonight. And cried. I cried like a baby. And immediately thought, I can’t submit anything in comparison. Despite the pain I think I’ve felt, I haven’t felt pain like that. Despite any problems I have now, or have had throughout my life, nothing compares to the problems they’ve had. I am a fucking baby. I have felt sorry for myself at points in my life, I have wallowed in depression, and I have no right. I have no right. I have no right to even write about it.
I sometimes write with a humorous lilt. Most times, I write nostalgic memoirs—touching on many emotions. And there have been times when I’ve opened myself and my fears with serious reflections. Specifically in terms of being a single mother. Recently, I’ve been bouncing between memoir, fiction, and young adult fiction—trying to determine the place in which I truly want to publish. A lofty goal, I know. But it’s always been my goal. For I am a writer. I will never give up on that statement, even if it means having to explain well into my older years that I’m still trying.
I just wish I felt deserving enough to do this.
[I've been slowly going through some of my writing that has been sitting around--trying to get organized, if you will--and I came across this essay I wrote last August. I never published it. Not much changes, however, and insecurities always lurk...waiting to pounce. Just thought I would share.]