Last Sunday, I was pondering going back to work. beating myself up for not having written more words over the weekend, and literally whispered to my husband, “I can’t do this.”
He didn’t know what I thought I couldn’t do, but being the man he is, he took me out for an adult beverage and let me vomit all my insecurities and craptastic fears while he quietly drank a warm mulled cider with rum.
This morning, a friend of mine, also a writer, told me she feels unfocused, and unhappy with herself, though I see her as a successful woman and writer, who raised kids despite the odds and was published by a major publisher and had a new book out this year.
My Facebook feed is full of writers discussing their woes, concerns, self-doubts and self-criticisms.
We say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t say to our worst enemies.
Is this a hallmark of creators? Artists from various crafts?
I’ve come to think it is. I’m not talking about clinical depression or diagnosed anxiety disorders, panic and compulsions, which are illnesses and yes, are prevalent in artistic communities, but probably not statistically more so than other communities. (With the one exception of bipolar disorder. See The Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jaimison.)
I’m talking about the pervasive nature and practice of self-flagellation, negative self-talk, professed insecurities and expressions of anxiety that pervade the spaces where writers meet and that weigh on the shoulders of those that pursue the written word.
So, here is my question to you: Is this partially cultural? Do we reinforce this mindset with each other, by enabling it,? By coddling it? Mind you, I acknowledge these feelings are REAL. I certainly know that my feelings are real, and I try not to complain and whimper, and get on with things, but my question is about the culture of writing and writers. Can we work together to minimize it?
Interested to hear what you think. Please leave comments.