For the last week or so I’ve been tormented by self doubt. It’s not a feeling I’m generally familiar with and I can say with complete certainty that I do not like it. I’ve been wrestling with it the past few days nonetheless; I’m not ashamed to say that it won a few rounds and for a little while there I thought it would beat me. Today I finally defeated that monster.
Last Saturday I was at Borders writing, when I got to a scene that I could not write. I sat at my little table, sipping my espresso that had turned cold at times closing my eyes to better visualize the scene. When that didn’t work I looked up at the sea of books-that’s when self doubt body slammed me. As I stared out at the store- that usually made me feel so happy- I began to wonder if I was good enough to one day see my dream of becoming a published author realized. I sat at my laptop a few more minutes, shuffled the songs on my play-list, finished my espresso… still nothing came to me. I kept staring at the blinking cursor my mind not really blank, because I have the story in my head- the words that would get the story out of my head and onto the page simply refused to flow. I typed a sentence and erased it because it didn’t “feel” right. I attempted a new sentence that admittedly was really bad.
Tap, tap, tap, my fingers against the keys…nothing. I sat there a few more minutes staring at the other patrons. Two teen-aged girls whispering over a book, a little girl with headphones in her ears carrying a stack of books in her arms (she reminded me of myself), a store employee with a really cool t-shirt as he came out of the back room, an elderly couple discussing their coffee order…nothing. Finally I decided to order a drink. I closed my laptop and headed for the barista, feeling completely downtrodden and very much like a failure. I ordered an almond Italian soda, and made my way back to my laptop scowling disdainfully at the sight of it; knowing full well that I did not feel that way. (I do have a flare for the dramatic-so you can see why I would do something like that. Right?)
I sat at the table sipping my soda, my elbows propped on my laptop, hands cupping my cheeks wondering what was up with my muse. Didn’t she know that this was the “me” time I’d been waiting for all week and now was the perfect time to slap me with some inspiration? Finally I gave up. I shut down my lap top, put my notebooks away, and decided to go next door to Ross to try on some clothes.
Over the next couple of days I grappled with the thought of tossing this idea and starting fresh. When yesterday it occurred to me that I was being my own worst enemy. I was being a dream crusher (that’s someone who crushes your dreams with negativity), so I did what any self respecting writer would do, I cleaned house. I swept and scrubbed my home till it and I felt renewed. I then smudged* my home with some dried sage and lavender saying a prayer to Saint Francis De Sales (he’s the patron saint of writers) and banishing negativity from my spirit and home, while welcoming creativity and peace of mind. When I finished I felt better. I lit some lavender incense and began to plot my story. Figuring that my block had something to do with the story itself and not my inability to write effectively. I also began going through some of my favorite author’s websites – as there is a wealth of information to be found from them. In doing so I came across this speech by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and found it to be very inspirational…and the proverbial icing on the cake. I also felt that she was speaking directly to me at times because it related so perfectly to what I was feeling.
*I began “smudging” my home a few years ago when my aunt-after having learned of my melanoma diagnosis sent me some dried sage. I do it now whenever I feel the need for renewal or purification.