Friday, May 9, 2008

self-doubt rears its ugly head.

I was thinking about my blog the other day and for some reason this image popped into my head:


It’s the work of the Belgian surrealist artist Magritte.

I was first introduced to this painting, called The Treachery of Images, in Art History class in university. I’ve always loved it. For those of you who don’t speak French, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”, translates into English as: “This is not a pipe”.

Now you may say, “but it sure looks like a pipe!”

And I would say, “why yes! It sure does look like a pipe. But it is not a pipe. It is simply an image of a pipe. It's a fake. An impostor!”

As Magritte himself said, “…could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe,’ I’d have been lying!"

For some reason the idea of this has always struck me as incredibly witty and yet exceptionally profound at the same time. Three cheers for Magritte.

But I digress. To go into a deep analysis of surrealist art would be to avoid the real reason behind this post, which is for me to announce that:

Je ne suis pas un écrivain” or “I am not a writer”.

And just like with the Magritte painting, you might say, “but you sure look like a writer!”

And I would say, “why yes! I do look like a writer, but I am not a writer. I am simply creating the image of a writer. I'm am a fake. I am but an impostor!”

Or, at least I don’t feel like a writer. Not this week anyway.

Lately I have been afraid to write a real honest-to-goodness post because I don’t feel like a good writer. Or, not a good enough writer. And I want to be great but I’ve been seriously discouraged lately by the deluge of thoughtful and meaningful posts I’ve read on other blogs that feature perfect imagery, wonderful analogies, heartfelt emotions or beautiful, lyrical prose. These posts are all written by writers. Real, honest-to-goodness writers. Students of writing. People who actually took creative writing in school and know what they are doing. This is not me. This blog is the first thing I’ve ever written creatively in my entire life.

(Actually that’s not true. I wrote a couple of screenplays once, but yesterday in an attempt to convince myself that I was a writer I went back and read them again. And let’s just say it only discouraged me more. But I digress, again.)

I know what I want to write, but I’m afraid to write it. I want to be excellent, but I’m not willing to put in the effort to be excellent. Writers join clubs. Writers study other writers. Writers immerse themselves in the practice of writing.

I don’t even have time to get through an entire Reader’s Digest in one sitting.

And with all due respect to those of you who have complimented my writing in the past, I think I can explain it like this; when it comes to writing at best I am:

a) A good thinker.
b) A fast typist.

I’m lucky enough that my typing can almost keep up with my brain. When you read my posts, it comes out pretty much exactly the way I was thinking it, with very little editing. (Which could explain a lot. Like, why some of my posts are so flippin’ long, or why some of them don’t make any sense at all.)

But enough about that. I love writing this blog, so I’m posting this in order to purge these negative thoughts in order to carry on. I must stop being discouraged by other posts and how great they are. (And/or how they so often take the words right out of my mouth and how I’d feel like a complete tool if I just regurgitated everything they’ve already said.)

Would it make for a lame blog if each day I only wrote one post which simply said:

"Here's what I wish I'd written today."

And then followed it with a link to the offending amazing post?

Yes. That would make for a lame blog.

So instead of hiding behind posts full of photographs and silly blah blah blahs about painted wooden spoons and knitted hats, I really need to get back to the business of writing and stop comparing myself to all the other writers out there. With a bazillion blogs on the internet, I can’t write with the hopes of becoming the next Dooce. I’m not going to make a living off my blog. It’s just not realistic. But does the fact that I’m never going to make a living off my blog mean I shouldn’t write? Absolutely not. It doesn’t even fall within the parameters of why I write this blog anyway.

So what if I’m not a writer.

All I know is that I need to get on with telling my stories because if I don’t, who will?

Oh, and knowing what I know now, maybe I should have taken Creative Writing in university instead of Art History...

---------------------------
ps – I swear this isn’t a cry for ego strokes, I just need to express my self-doubt out loud. I need to purge so I can stop worrying about "not being a writer" and just get on with writing. Thanks.


12 comments:

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

"All I know is that I need to get on with telling my stories because if I don’t, who will?"

And there, my dear, you have it in a nutshell. It doesn't matter if it's in words of one syllable or prose. You write your blog for you, and that's all that matters.

Retiredandcrazy said...

OG says you should read the Desiderata

"If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time".

Don't worry about others, your writing is great, just lay back and enjoy it!

Retiredandcrazy said...

OG says you should read the Desiderata

"If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time".

Don't worry about others, your writing is great, just lay back and enjoy it!

Retiredandcrazy said...

Sorry, I've done it again! I'm always duplicating comments (by accident). It's my age!

softinthehead said...

See I just don't give it that much thought I just type!! We love whatever you write so keep it coming, and I loved the post about the wooden spoon :) amongst many others. PS: I am rushing over to my blog to see if you have left me a clue.....

Jan said...

Carolyn, what ever you are feeling and doing at the time is fine. For myself on why I pop over here, I come as a friend and not as a professor of writing. I love what you write no matter what... Period. I just want you to always remember that this is your blog where you come to do what you want to do and say. Nothing more. We have to remember it is not a contest of sorts. We have this great medium to express ourselves in any manner we choose to. One day may be hokey and the next day may be powerfully thought provoking. And I find that being real because life holds variety...

You are a beautiful writer full to the brim with thoughts. Express them.. (YOURS) not some other persons. But please do sometimes entertain with the things like wooden spoons because that was part of your life too. And your pictures you put out are wonderful too. What I am saying is your fine............ Love you for who you are.

Carla Marion Peritz said...

You ARE a writer, though. (And that was a pipe, by the way.)

Seriously though, the fact that someone studied this or that in college and received a piece of paper for it does not necessarily make them what that piece of paper states. I didn't study journalism in college, for example. But neither did one of my heroes, Peter Jennings, who is so deeply missed, I might add. I just started working in my chosen field. Working and learning. And of course for many years, and especially since I started at such a legendary station in a major market at such a young age, of course I constantly worried that they were going to "find me out"...that I "shouldn't be here" and that everyone would discover what a fraud I was soon enough. But there was something there, just like you with your writing. I had to keep telling myself "just fake it until you make it". And I did. And it worked.

Too often, I think we worry too much about pedigrees and PhD's and we allow the fear of not being "as good as" keep us from being exactly what we want to be.

You're a writer.

...and that was a pipe.

And now I must change a poopy diaper.

Carolyn said...

Thanks everybody. You always have great advice. I really did write this post just to purge my thoughts, I will write no matter what.

I know I write about angst and self-doubt quite often. Perhaps I am beating a dead horse, but these are my thoughts, so I appreciate you all sticking with me.

AOJ - Yes. That was the conlusion I came to, so write I will!

Retired - I love what you wrote. Amazing and so true. I will look up Desiderata. Thanks very much for the advice.

Retired - I love what you wrote. Amazing and so true. I will look up Desiderata. Thanks very much for the advice.

Retired - No worries. I liked what you wrote so much that I was happy to read it twice.

SITH - Thanks. I suppose the wooden spoon wasn't bad. I really shouldn't push myself to be profound all the time.

Jan - I could just cry. Your comment is exactly why I've grown so fond of you. I don't know how you manage to get inside my head, but you always say exactly what I need to hear. Thank you.

Carla - Awesome, awesome, awesome. True and noted. Thank you thank you.

Jennifer H said...

Oh, you.

I don't think there are many of us who put up knock your socks off posts even most of the time, let alone all of the time. I try to be entertaining, and if there's something important I need to say, then I write it. But you're just as likely to find a story about a broken toilet.

That said, I have had the same feelings you do, and they have kept me from writing anything in the past. My blog has changed that, and now I write something almost every day.

I love your stories, and I also know you're the only one who can tell them (as you said). And as you're building the confidence in your writing, let us tell you what you're having trouble seeing right now...

You're a writer.

"A work of art is good if it has grown out of necessity." -Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke

Corey~living and loving said...

I think you just spoke to what is in many of our minds.
I find that I get serious writers block when I start worrying about the quality of my writing. I start stress and nothing comes out.

I am just trying my best to just relax and type what is important to ME.

Kaycie said...

You made the sweetest comment about my last blog entry. Newsflash: I'm not a writer, either.

My favorite writer/editor friend, Laurie at Three Dog Blog, once told me that she tells her reporters to write the way they talk; it's interesting and it's real. I would bet she'd say the same about writing the way you think.

That said, I don't come to see you for the quality of your writing. I come over to see how you and Csilla and Balazs are doing. I visit to see all the lovely photos you put up, especially the ones of Csilla (that don't show her face). You remind me of what my life used to be, once upon a time, when I was the young mother of one little tiny girl.

Don't change a thing. I like you just the way you are.

Kimberly said...

It's the fact that you're writing what you're thinking that makes your blog so enthralling. So art-less...so real. Love it!