It happens every time. As sure as the hairy spider hunkering down in the dark corner of my front porch ensnares the diseased, disgusting fly, it happens. Every. Damn. Time. Although not always on my front porch.
My brain is like an overstuffed file cabinet, filled with remnants of old paperwork of days gone- paperwork that had long since passed it’s statute of limitations, forgotten and sentenced to the dark, way-back of a packed metal crate. As point of fact, in the far reaches of my mind, along with millions of one-word thoughts and images of details however small that I wish to include in my writing one day, stuffed in a moth-filled drawer somewhere I’ve tucked away concepts, outlines, and loglines for at least four fictional novels, two creative non-fiction books, three screenplays, and dozens upon dozens of magazine pitches. And still? My cup runneth over with half-assed crap.
My external brain- ie. my computer, is even worse than a crammed metal box. As the vehicle with which to purge my inner thoughts and images, it refuses to be an accessory to possible greatness. Instead, it whirrs and whines expectedly, knowing full well that my time here is limited to emails and Facebook, along with the obligatory minutes my fingers will spend hovering- and never touching, when called on to actually write.
I’ve found the title Writer to be unfitting over the years- regardless of the fact that I have been published multiple times in several local magazines and was a contributing author in two best selling anthologies. Still, I have worn the crown tilted, afraid, as always, that my identity was not secure in writing, that I wasn’t good enough, that I would fail. Forgetting that I had already done, I spent time worrying about the doing. And in that silly insecurity, I froze, like a Minnesota pond in January. Rather than continuing my quest to do what I love – in spite of the vulnerability that I have so felt, I have planted my ass in a soft, yet commanding chair with false intents, feeling all insecurity well up in my chest, and fully understanding that they would win. As a result, rather than deliverance of my imprisoned thoughts and ideas, I have done next to nothing- feeling anxiety and disappointment, and whipping myself about my lack of doing. Every time. Every damn time.
Still I sit, though, understanding that somehow all of the feelings of not-good-enough, and questioning over and over again my capabilities, will come to a head- and, who knows, perhaps bring about some dazzling string of words that may just change the world- or my world, anyway. And, still my brain freezes, my fingers hovering eloquently above the keyboard as though they were meant to be there; like a quiet torpedo waiting for launch, my fingers wait for brilliance to strike.
Today I’m taking a new approach. First and foremost, I told myself to shut the eff up, already, and stop reiterating that I can’t before I even have the chance to do. I expect to fail, as much as I expect to write, and the unsurprising result is nothing but more personal ammunition with which to beat myself.
While the act of modifying my attitude is sincere, I also am a pro in learning how difficult it is to change deep seated habits and behaviors. I won’t share how long my motionless fingers sat stagnant an inch or two above my keyboard before I got this far, as I doubted, and fussed, and made every excuse in the world a good one to just walk away. But still I sit. And that’s a big deal.
The next thing I have changed this morning to keep myself sitting, is to mix up my routine a bit. It is not uncommon for writers to have- and cling tightly to, their rituals. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up, Victor Hugo, in the nude, and Maya Angelou always has a bottle of Sherry and a deck of playing cards at hand during her writing time. Me? I sit slouched and vulnerable, with expectations of both success and failure, in a very quiet room- a perfect breeding ground for my many insecurities clamoring around my brain. And very soon, they are deafening.
But not today. Instead, I went in search of something positive, fun, and encouraging that might help me silence the babble of the inner Bitch who keeps me so very stunted. She has wrestled with me over the hours, and silencing her has not been a simple task. Nonetheless, I continue to work all angles to handle the situation. I plug into Mozart- my favorite piano version with binaural beats, and feel myself settle. I’m wearing both my mother’s favorite lipstick, Drumbeat Red, and her overbearing perfume, Estee Lauder’s Beautiful- and I mean to say these items are literally hers. After her death eight years ago, I commandeered them as somehow irreplaceable- although they certainly are not, and on those occasions when I don either item, I feel as though she is nearby, a few layers back, encouraging me to move forward.
And, lastly, because I feel this whole endeavor needs a bit of silliness- something to help me feel less serious, less like this is a job, I am now writing in a pink bunny mask. I doubt I’ll write a Pulitzer prize winning novel as such, but who knows? Stranger things have happened.
And, here I am: force feeding creativity, in a positive and fun style, and literally inflicting writing upon myself. I’ve charged myself with writing something- anything – if only just my name over and over and over again, as opposed to just sitting and waiting. So, I type to hear the clicks of my fingernails on those evil black squares, and am reminded that I can write- and I do write – even if it comes out as gibberish. And the result of today’s quick snaps at my keyboard is nothing but this, and it’s all to keep me believing I am actually writing anything at all.
And, holy crap, I am.