December IWSG

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?


18 responses to “December IWSG

  1. Frankly, I’m still trying to find what can silence my doubt. Most of the decisions I’ve made in life have been wrong, why would thinking I could write be any different? Although, my step daughter is a great motivator and muse. She reminds me of the imagination of children, and she has taught me that it is OK to be silly.

  2. I don’t like to silence my doubts. I limit their volume, but I like to keep them just loud enough that I know they’re still around. This keeps my feet on the ground, and reminds me what I’m working for. I think it’s essential to take control of your fears, but for me personally, I’d rather use them as fuel than shut them up entirely. My fear of failure is one of the most powerful motivators in my life, and it keeps my butt in the chair and my hands on the keyboard.

    Welcome to IWSG, and good luck.

  3. When I told my dad I was moving out, I was 20, he said he thought it was a bad idea because I couldn’t possibly take proper care of myself. LOL. Now I know what he meant to say was he didn’t want me to leave because he’d miss me. Parents!

    Happy IWSG.

  4. I try to keep writing. I tell myself that if I write enough sooner of later I’ll have something good enough. Good enough for what though is still a mystery.
    I’m glad you kept writing in spite of your Dad. I don’t think parents realise what an impact their opinions can have.

  5. It can be hard to look back and see all of the bad choices we made. Especially those that we are still suffering the consequences of… sometimes, we have to stop looking back entirely and just look ahead.

    Good luck to you, keep on writing!

  6. I think that holds true for most relationships… a single idle word, even spoken in jest, could derail or even destroy someone’s entire future. Of course, we all must choose how we will react to what happens to/around us. Choice is a powerful thing.

    I’m choosing to not be like the worst aspects of my father, hoping that one day my son will choose the same.

    Thanks for stopping by and even more for commenting!

  7. Oh the voice of parental warnings– echoes in the head sometimes. I chose a business major because his voice told me it was more sensible. Follow the heart and work hard to make it work. Glad I stopped by your post today. Thanks for your thoughts.

  8. Thank you for stopping by! If I had listened to my father I would have pursued and failed at a degree in architecture, all because he wanted easy access to an architect’s stamp for construction job bids.


  9. I realized that my mom’s negativity was her problem not mine years ago (but I’m probably a lot older than you). There are too many personality conflicts with family members — it’s an emotional minefield. Find good writers with objective and informed opinions and use their advice to help you with your writing (if it suits you). Unless your father is a published writer, he can take his opinion and …
    Keep believing in yourself and keep trying. 🙂

  10. My mom and dad doesn’t say give up on anything, they say you can pursue any dream you want and that’s what I’m exactly doing. I love writing, so that’s what I’m pursuing.

    Like Lexa Cain said above, keep believing in yourself. You CAN achieve your dreams, don’t think you CANNOT because you CAN. 🙂

  11. You’re fortunate to have a supporting family. Don’t ever lose your appreciation for that!

    Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  12. I’ve come a long way since then and since having a son of my own, I’ve learned that sometimes a parent makes very well-meaning mistakes in the interest of ‘helping’ their progeny. I know I’ve made a few significant blunders in my son’s short five years…

    Joining the IWSG is a recent step in finding like-minded souls to bounce my ideas off of… thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  13. I have a somewhat similar story in that my mother never really encouraged my writing. Yet writing was compulsive for me, and I did it anyway. She read a few of my stories and totally trashed them. This continued through high school and college and well into my professional life.

    Then I showed her a short story I’d done called Tomorrow News Network. It was about a journalist who travels through time, showing up at newsworthy events before they happen. My mother read it and said (paraphrasing), “Actually, that was pretty good. When will you write the next one?”

    Now I’ve written ten.

    Normally, when someone says their mother thinks their writing is good, that means nothing. The fact that my mother admitted (grudgingly at first) that I’d written something good is, to me, a huge accomplishment. The best way to silence my doubts is to remind myself how I won over one of my biggest critics.

  14. I don’t know. Somehow I generally manage to keep my doubts from taking me over, but I’m not sure how. Sometimes it might be looking back at the things that I’ve created that I really love, (even if nobody else does,) or the adventures I’ve had because I took a chance instead of hesitating.

    I do feel grateful that my family has always been encouraging and never expressed much doubt in my dreams.

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