When I write, I'm often almost crippled by self-doubt and have to battle through it to get anything done. When I'm not writing, I manage to convince myself that I've forgotten how to do so, that whatever sliver of talent I once thought I possessed has slipped away. Occasionally when I'm working on something and find myself deep in the Zone I begin to feel like I'm the king of the world, but it never lasts long - reality soon comes crashing in to shatter the illusion.
I'm writing about this not to elicit sympathy or get a pat on the head for my trouble, but to comment on the fact that every single writer I admire suffers from a similar kind of angst. They all doubt the validity and the relevance of what they do; they beat themselves up over their prose and the work they produce. They doubt it. They doubt it all.
I think we, as artists (or hopeful artists), need these doubts. They fire us up. They make us challenge ourselves, force us to push beyond many self-percieived limits. We need to place barriers in our way so that we might crash through them, and come out on the other side having perhaps created something worthwhile. Or at least something we're reasonably happy with.
I see a lot of writers these days (usually on social networking sites) who seem to be in desperate competition with each other. They mouth off about their achievements - even the small ones, that aren't really worth mentioning - and seem to seek validation in order to find any worth in what they do. For me, that isn't the way to get anywhere meaningful.
The only person I'm in competition with is myself. I try to beat that fucker McMahon in everything I do: writing, running, loving, living...he won't ever catch me. I won't let him. That's the only part of my life in which there's no room for doubt.
It's always comforting to know that others share the same doubts and confusion as you do.
You're right, in the end the race is only with yourself.
Rather than shouting about any small achievements, I find re-reading past work motivating. It's reassuring to know that you can do this, it's just a case of actually putting pen to paper.
Thanks, Em...it's good to know that someone's reading these things. :-)
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