A few writers came to me this week for advice. One person bemoaned his "lack of talent" (his words) and suggested that there was no reason to write because, quite simply, and again these were his words, Who cares?
Here's the thing, I think. All of us artists, and by "artists" I mean: writers, photographers, and painters ... wait, let me rephrase ... all of us humans — all of us — at one point think we suck. We think What's the point?, and we think we think we think we think.
We think too much and what we need to do — or at least what I am attempting to do is: just do the work.
Here's my latest mind tattoo (a term you can borrow if you like) and, which I've had to offer up to those writers who came to me for advice: "Get over yourself."
I get thoughts and words stuck in mind. On repeat. In my 20s during my anorexia years, they were things like: You are fat. You are a monster. Nowadays they vary, but sometimes I get tattooed with: You will never finish this book. No one will read this. I try and remove the offending tattoo with one that will serve me better. Get over yourself is helpful. (It's the same thing as when I say, Get out of your head, it's a bad neighborhood.)
When I start to lament my life or the fact that I have no idea how I am going to finish this book or I start to compare myself to other authors I think of Cher delivering the famous slap and line in the movie Moonstruck, "Snap Out Of It!" and I say Get over yourself. Kindly of course. But nonetheless, with a swift kick in the arse.
Listen: everybody's insecure. Everybody wonders if they should be doing this, whatever "this" is.
Write. Paint. Take pictures.
Stop whining and get to work. Write a shitty sentence. (We all have.) There are so many shitty sentences in the world. Get over it. (There! That was a shitty sentence I just wrote.)
And yet and still, I am continuing on.
You, on the other hand, may have stopped reading by now. No matter. I forge on.
I have been stuck on this Joan Didion quote this past weekend, "I suppose almost everyone who writes is afflicted some of the time by the suspicion that nobody out there is listening."
Now, if Didion said that, Joan Didion — one of the masters — we should feel a sense of relief that everyone has that same concern of "Do I matter? Is anyone listening? Do I suck? Do people think X, Y, or Z about me?"
The answers, consecutively are:
- Yes, you matter.
- Some people are listening. At least one person is listening. Some are not listening at all.
- You do not suck but sometimes you may write a shitty sentence. (Or take a shitty photograph or mess up in a very human way.) Someone on this page wrote that we should make our mistakes out loud. Said he learned that while taking guitar lessons. Something like that. But mostly, you do not suck. Don't wallow in your own suckery.
- Some people do think X, Y, or Z about you.
Get over it. Keep working.
I am off to work on my book proposal now. I am forging on. See you in London.
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