Insecurity. Every person must face their own private fears and doubts; for creative people this seems to be with every stroke of the brush, line of text or ringing note. My own private hell is full of insecurity and every project I’ve undertaken has been, to one extent or another, an exercise in fighting past it.
As someone who grew up hearing more “You can do better” more often than, “Good job” I’ve often wondered where I might be now instead of where I am, a pointless exercise in what-if. I understand, now, my father’s intent… to make me constantly strive to do better, but that doesn’t mean that the way he went about it didn’t leave lasting scars on my psyche.
Take for example when he heard about my writing ambitions, something I’d carefully kept from him for the better part of ten years. I’ve been writing off an on since before college, though it was because of the encouragement of a particular instructor that I began to write more regularly. I finished my first novel (all 120,000 terribly unedited pages of it) in something like a year, no mean feat for someone carrying a full course-load, working part-time and also involved in multiple other projects. My second novel took considerably longer and the many short stories I’ve written as well as the many hundreds of thousands of words of role-playing words since then. I’ve written (and produced) over a dozen plays, all of which were well-received, with regular requests for my input on others…
But my father’s condescending “You should just give up on this writing thing,” almost destroyed me. An utterly crushing blow that left me quite literally at the brink of just deleting everything I’d ever written, burning every piece of art I’d ever created… it amplified my ever-present insecurity and it took years for me to shake it. I don’t think I really shook the worst of that until my wife gave birth to my son. There was something so perfect, so fragile, so… amazing. Something I had a hand in creating. Having a child of my own gave me impetus to create funny and beautiful things for him to look at and play with and since I’ve written more, painted more and dreamed more than ever before.
Still the nagging doubts whisper in my ear, the mad cackle of doubt mocking me from behind the hand over its mouth. Taunting my every word, every stroke of my brush. I drown it out as best I can… until my son looks at something I’m working on and in his tiny voice says, “Great job Daddy!”
Then doubt is silent.
Tell me, dear readers… what silences your doubts?