Joining in with the online discussion that Kate Motaung is hosting: On Being a Writer, based on Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig’s book On Being a Writer: 12 simple habits for a writing life that lasts…
Today’s the first day of the discussion and we were invited to post a blog post around the topic of Identify.
I’ve chosen to reflect on what’s holding me back.
I am a writer, in that I write (and edit) non-fiction for a living and aside from this, I write, daily, in my journals or I work on my book. I dabble in writing in some form each and every day as my one dream, desire, overarching hope is to write, and publish, and have my fiction (my ‘from the heart’ writing) reach an audience.
To be able to help others who might have gone through similar things I have and who might need a light, a guide, to ‘hear’ someone tell them they’re strong, that they can and will make it, that all is not lost.
[I have a note stuck on my office wall. It says ‘Be the light that helps others see…’ I read it one day and it described, perfectly, what I’d like to do with my writing….(I’m waving my heart around on a stick here, ladies: please treat me gently…I don’t have any illusions at all that I could become the next Marianne Williamson or Paolo Coelho or anything, but I do believe my writing has a place and could help many women]
I’ve been writing here at I Will Bloom for almost a year and, for me, the posts that have been most successful are the ones where I’ve shared – spilled – bits of my heart. I feel that’s my most genuine, authentic, writing and I feel that’s when people have responded to my writing the most, with the most genuine, heartfelt, comments.
[Please don’t get me wrong: I don’t write for comments, I have written on I Will Bloom for me, to get it all out of my system, to process, to understand – it’s been a wonderful, amazing thing for me to see a community build around my blog, but that isn’t why I started writing on I Will Bloom].
So…what’s holding me back, from going the whole hog? Jacking everything else in and declaring myself a writer? The writer from the heart that I so desperately want to be?
Excuses galore. You name a possible solution, I have an excuse for it. [I’m like a witch doctor curing all possibilities of committing. I have a potion and songs and dances for each and every way that it might just, could, possibly work!]
My littles. I’m the sole bread winner, a single Mama with two small children. I need to pay bills. I don’t have the luxury of dedicating myself to writing (I realise few people do….and, yes, I am aware of J.K.Rowling’s story…thank you very much to all the friends who have pointed her out when I try to vocalise my fears! But, actually, my situation is nothing like hers. I don’t have the luxury of benefits or child care (or even child maintenance!) to fall back on and I’m in a foreign (developing) country, isolated, with no family around to help me…not that I’m shouting ‘Woe is me’ from the rooftops, you understand)…]
Time is also precious, as much as money is necessary. I don’t have great swathes of free time where I can mull things over/develop ‘plans of attack’…[my X-Factor and film viewing, for a few hours a week is sacred ‘me’ time that’s necessary to stop me going bonkers (to hear English being spoken if nothing else!) and I simply can’t claw out great swathes of time from my schedule…I already wake at 5 and crawl in to bed, physically exhausted at around 10…and every minute between 5am and 10pm is accounted for with pretty much military precision!]
I’m also an ‘all or nothing’ kinda girl so my fiction (or perhaps more accurately my ‘from the heart’ writing) has taken a backseat because if I’m not able to dedicate myself 100% to it, my heart is just not fully in it, then everything suffers. I clamp up, I get writers block, I paralyse myself.
What holds me back is, also, I think the fear of dedicating myself properly – with commitment – to my ‘from the heart’ writing. This blog sort of surged up as part of my self-defeating strategy to not allow myself time to concentrate on the kind of writing I want to do…”If you have a blog, Helen, then you’ll have an outlet for some of your writing”…”It’s something you can do until you can do what you want to do” (I convinced myself…leading myself, in the process, away from dedicating myself to other ‘from the heart’ writing projects).
But, you know, I battle with myself, constantly…I love my blog, love it…love the community, love “my girls”, but my blog sort of feels like a cop out and I kind of get disappointed every time I publish a post…because it sometimes feels like I used up a part of me on a blog post and not on something more in tune with what I want to be writing. And I sometimes hate myself (a little bit) for that.
Then my mind goes back round to commitment and all the other cop out excuses I use to dominate my inner writer self…”You don’t have time”, “You’re daft to think you can take on another huge project”…and the killer one: “Who do you think you are?”…
I read work by amazing thinkers, authors, writers, every single day and I’m blown away by the quality and originality of the writing. And I look at what I do, in my half assed way, and I get intimidated. As much by my own lack of commitment as by the other writers and their writing.
Then I circle round to ‘Ugh, it’s all too much, I’ll just leave it for a while…I’ll start when x or y or z happens”…and you know, time is pushing and x or y or z haven’t happened so far and I’m beginning to think they’re not going to happen…
And I know, I know, I know, I believe that the Universe conspires to make something happen when we visualise it and ask very clearly and very specifically for it…(I’ve lived this process previously so I know it works)…so I kick myself every day that I haven’t had the gumption to ask, to dedicate myself in a committed manner to making it happen.
So what is it?
What is holding me back?
Is it a fear of not being good enough (to live up to my own expectations)? Is it fear of what might happen if I allow myself to – and then manage to – write as I (85%) know I can/could? Is it really that I fear that? That I fear success? Actually achieving what I dream of achieving?
I don’t know, but I do know that I’m not getting any younger and that every day I don’t practice, don’t try, don’t at least imagine myself writing the kinds of things I want to write, and take my writing to the places I’d like to take it, then I’m doing myself a disservice.
And, at the end of the day, that’s sort of strange, isn’t it?
Sabotaging myself, sacrificing my talents…
What is holding me back?
[Answers on a postcard, please….all ideas/suggestions considered!]