I have many recurring thoughts. Some of them are pretty banal: “I need coffee.” Sometimes they’re rhetorical: “Should I have another coffee?” Other times they’re a bit more existential: “Who am I without coffee?”
When I have thoughts about my writing career, however, they usually hover around one recurring, discouraging theme: “HOW do other people do this?” (Also but less often, “HOW do some people do this without coffee?”)
Which always leads me to my least favourite, most threatening thought: “Can I do this?” And inevitably: “Am I good enough?”
I try really, really hard to avoid comparing myself to others. It’s toxic and useless and altogether artificial. But when I do fall into that trap (there’s just way too much bait out there to avoid it all together), I remind myself of how lucky I am. I remind myself of how hard people work for their successes. And that I can be successful, too, if I work hard.
That being said, could someone please tell me exactly how hard? No, really, give me a formula. There are days when I’ll write for an hour, file a few hundred words (I write sllooooooowww) and instead of feeling relief or accomplishment, I’ll feel incredibly guilty for not writing more. (Don’t even get me started on revisions.)
Every minute of my time is scheduled, squeezed, synergized, capitalized. (Just call me Mom Corp.) And writing between chores sometimes makes writing a chore. I’m exhausted. My brain is fried. Coffee doesn’t even work for me anymore and I can’t help but think HOW DO PEOPLE DO THIS? CAN I EVEN DO THIS?
Maybe I can’t. That’s a terrifying thought, but that’s ok if I gave it all I’ve got. I have a bad, bad habit of listening to my fiercest critic. And my fiercest critic (me) is starting to have doubts. I sometimes need 10 supportive voices for every one negative thought I have about my own abilities. (I’m so lucky to have those 10 voices.)
But maybe I am capable of doing this, and doing it well. I’m halfway through my writing mentorship, I am working hard and my work is getting better. There MUST be a reason I’m chasing this writing life, that I feel compelled to chase it.
I don’t know where I’ll end up, I don’t know what working even harder will bring, and I don’t know for sure if I am good enough.
What I do know is, I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t try.
In the meantime, there’s more coffee. (I’ll always forgive you, coffee. You’re the best.)