It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday and my goal to write 500 words a day of fiction has not only not been met, but pushed to the point of a total time crunch of needing something, about 1,000 words, to present for my critique group this week.
I have become addicted to my comfort zone, watching TV and eating calories, beset by an anxiety and tortuous nudging to be as productive as the writers who thrust their fantasy I am watching onto the world were able to muster.
Maybe it’s that I’m not getting paid. No, that’s ultimately not been a factor most of my life. I worked on my high school newspaper for free more out of passion than anything. Getting paid for my fiction is a dream but not promising enough to first compel me to the keyboard.
I often wonder now, even without my tobacco use, if I got sick with head and neck cancer from not writing everyday, from not fulfilling the basic duty of the creative archetype I chose in this incarnation. By the grace of God, or at least my higher self and spirit guides, I’ve now survived well past the 13 months I was given to crawl, walk and jog toward fulfilling my purpose.
Yet my writing life had become tangled in my professional life for years, having written for a living as a reporter at The Denver Post and as a freelance writer for my friend Christine’s company Media Salad. Getting fired from The Post in 2014, pushed out, was a major blow to my self-esteem, nay my ego. In the months preceding my every word was scrutinized by my editors, stacking up mistakes as cause to terminate me. Now looking back getting fired was one of the best things to happen to me, to free me from a job no longer really resonate with my soul’s new mission to be of more direct healing service.
But the damage was done in regards to programming my inner judge to haunt my every movement on the keyboard or pen to paper.
So now when I sit down to write, an overwhelming anxiety comes over me, this inner ghost trying to hold back my soul for fear of why? Rejection by others? Ridicule? Failure that my words, my creations, my tales will never strike a chord and bring widespread admiration? It’s ego, ego, ego. My soul knows I must write, or at the very least it is ultimately fulfilling, if not just for the dopamine hit.
Part of the anxiety too is fear of criticism from my critique group, or critique partners, even though it is constructive and ultimately brings me closer to the ego dream of being a published, popular and profitable author. But those grandiose dreams can’t be enough. I must strive for something more, for something so blazingly simple.
Last week I told my therapist when I was a toddler, before I knew real written language, I used to scribble down on Big Chief paper tablets and post my illegible declarations on my bedroom door. I didn’t really consider what my inner judge thought, what an editor would think, if I would get paid for it, or how my peers might judge it. I. Just. Wrote. Out of compulsion, desire and fun.
I just ordered a Big Chief tablet, pencils and a pencil sharpener. If I don’t make it to the keyboard to write, damnit I will at least scribble like a child in the tablet.
I seek to reclaim that now, to still be open to critique and feedback but not let it hinder or stop me, to return to that innocence, before this judge became my oppressive companion, when fresh pages and new days were truly known as my birthright.
I write not to just die, but to truly live, and just maybe bring something wanted into the world.