08 Sep This morning it is raining or, A short bout of self-doubt induced paralysis.
This morning it is raining.
I’m on Day 3 of my new regime: taking this writing thing seriously.
That it to say: writing as my day job.
Suddenly I feel a bit unqualified.
I am wearing my old holey jeans (not holey in a cool way, more in a – I can’t leave the house due to indecency – way), I have no make up on, my hair has been cleaned with dry shampoo and I have a peg holding it off my face.
Yesterday I finished the novel I was reading (a weird one – about a woman who fell in love with a duck) so before I went to bed I picked something else up off the shelf to read. A really well written book, by an author whose turn of phrase I adore. I chose it because when I was writing yesterday I had one of those ‘peripheral vision’ moments when you can’t quite remember the quote or what it was in reference to, but you know if you could it would be really helpful – or not, but you have to find out anyway. I was pretty sure it was in Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I started to read. I devoured a couple of chapters and turned out the light. As I drifted off to sleep I felt a little sad. It took me a while to figure out why. Then I realised.
I felt sad because his writing was really good. It was better than I had remembered.
So now I’ve got all the feelings.
All the feelings that tell me that I shouldn’t be doing this, that I don’t have a place at this table, that I don’t have anything to offer. The brilliance of his writing has made me feel a little foolish. Like, What am I doing? Why do I think I can do this?
I know I have a story and my life has changed enormously over the last seven years, heck, I feel like a totally different person, but having a story and being able to write about it in a way that is creatively credible and of interest to anyone else is another thing.
Every now and again I have a moment when I write something and it sounds good. It sounds like something other people might want to read, but often I feel like I am just digging over the ground, not planting anything beautiful, just digging, it is hard work and there isn’t much to show for it.
(Personally I find a newly turned-over bed of soil a beautiful thing, especially if I have put in the work myself, but I know isn’t something everyone would get excited about.)
I was chatting with a friend about this (very dull) sense of insecurity and he told me it sounded like I was talking about imposter syndrome. The feeling of being a fraud. Of not having earned or deserved your role or position.
Yup. That about sums it up.
But as I have sat here, and written these words I have started to feel more relaxed. Okay so I am not Donald Miller, his place is already taken, and I doubt his clothes would fit me, but I have a place here, I have a story to tell.
It would be ridiculous to think that I would be brilliant at this writing thing without putting in the hard work, and that is what I am doing. Sometimes I write something that really resonates and connects, sometimes I fall a little shy of that, sometimes I land on my arse. But it is okay. This is how you grow.
Back in the beginning, when I started this blog, nearly three years ago, I told a story about drawing a hippo’s skull (this story inspired the name for this blog). Drawing hippos in this tale (a true story that happened to a friend of mine) is, for me, synonymous with failing and failing again. Being okay with failing. Recognising that failure is good. Understanding that failure is how you learn.
It is how you learn to do what you do better, but it also how you learn that failure is not something to fear. It is what happens when you are willing to live life fully, leaving everything out there. Failure is, at some point, inevitable if you are living life vulnerably, with an open hand.
This morning I also picked up a book by Brene Brown*, to see if she had any words of encouragement for me, for us. This is what I found on page 2. (Page 2! She is not mucking about);
“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in…
When we spend our lives waiting until we are perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions only we can make.”
This is something I have to remind myself of time and again. Sometimes I am going to have to risk and be okay with the outcome, even if it is not what I hope for. I am going to come up to my little room and tap away on this computer, writing words and sentences, trying phrases and combinations, attempting to find a way to appropriately describe one situation or another, without being able to guarantee success.
I am going to publish these thoughts and unfinished musings on this blog because it is okay to not have everything totally sewn up, and it is good to keep going even when you feel someone else could do it better. Done is better than perfect.
I will keep digging and weeding the soil, and watching and seeing what grows.
The sun has now come out.
*Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. An excellent read.