Been hearing a lot lately about Impostor Syndrome. Here's the thing: The only way you can be an impostor in writing is if you can't write but are given a huge wad of cash anyway. Which happens. Do you have a huge wad of cash? Can you write a good story? Congratulations! You're not an impostor! The fact that you're going to feel like you suck a lot does not an impostor make. Makes you human. Teachers think they suck. Counselors think they suck. Electricians think they suck. Politicians suck but rarely think it. The human race has a built-in 'I Suck' gene that operates on a whisper-touch hair trigger.
My friends, it is cool. I see you. You the writer. You. Painter. You. Essayist. Filmmaker. Comic artist. Even me when I look in a mirror. Even me.
Put the work in. Clock in. Be the thing. Be cool.
Some say if you keep to a writing schedule it takes the magic out of writing. First off, there is no magic in writing. Disavow yourself of that notion, sunshine. (Well, there is, but that's not where we are now.) Writing is mental work, accent on work. It doesn't simply come. You have to think, strategize, evolve and adapt a bunch of schoolchildren called "Ideas" into the best, most cohesive and entertaining idea they can be. That's not magic, that's construction. Build the house that Jill wrote.
A schedule means that house won't see a flurry of activity for a day followed by two weeks of unexplained absence. Anybody waiting for you to build their home would fire you under that model. There will be work stoppages, no doubt, but not because of "Don't Wanna."
No, this is not "forcing" yourself to write. Generally you force somebody to do something they are intrinsically set against. We're going to assume you like to write. Me, there are times when I don't seek out photos of Rosario Dawson but if somebody slides one my way I do not have to force myself to look. This isn't even so much about discipline; you know what you need to do and you know when to do it. It's more about honesty. Do you really want to write (and all that it entails) or do you want the glory of saying you've written?
The latter is of the "A Gold Star & Trophy in Every Pot" camp. The latter does not want to push the re-do button on every chapter so instead it throws excuses your way like a rain of stabby shuriken. They lodge in your brain. Your ideas and enthusiasm seep out, not in the good way. Mental sepsis, aka writer's block, sets in. Writing becomes impractical, detrimental even. No possibility of adhering to a schedule. That or it's (the brain) waiting on the muse. I'm all for diaphanous gowns on artsy ladies whose bosoms smell like lavender poppies. I am. I also know the dream of lavender boobs is just that: a dream. There is no muse, there is only you. If you feel the need to suit up in order to get words flowing, a diaphanous gown would be fierce on you.
So here's the thing about writing: you're either going to give yourself an out for why you're not doing it or you're going to do it. That's it. Your schedule doesn't have to be every day. It can be every other day or however. But if it's ten minutes once a week, don't bother. You have too much weight on the flipside to tip a book out.
And if you're worried that scheduled writing means you won't knock out Toni Morrison-level prose each time at bat: Please. Return to the paragraph on not wanting to edit then return here for the coda on your writing career, which is basically The End.
Here’s where we stand one month into 2017: a person who’s not fit to lead kindergarteners in a recital of the ABCs occupies the seat of the highest office in the United States of America. Don’t ask. My house was burgled. “Burgled.” Yeah. I met some amazing folks at a sci fi book convention. Win win. I’ve got a couple writing gigs lined up; recommitted myself to meditation; will try very hard not to muck up anyone’s life during the 11 months remaining. Not despairing, fretful, or panicked despite the sum total of heinous assery dirtying the world. This doesn’t mean I’m not affected. Doesn’t mean you’re not either. I’m thinking about living my life a completely different way. Love, home, work, play—everything. The old narratives serve the tiniest concerns. New way could make me worthy of my dreams. I still have those. Haven’t given up, not yet. Not ever. And that’s where we are one month into 2017. We’re not giving up.
Write on, right on.
I think we’re so fixed on being constantly entertained because we’re always hungry for our dream state. What an odd species. Never truly awakened and, when asleep, never fully committed to the dream. Radio, television, movies, plays, books, commercials, galleries: all waking-dreams of sleep. It’s no surprise that every culture on this planet, from Aboriginal truths to Freud’s repressions, respects dreams. Dreams are where whatever’s inside us lives its best life as part of the All.
There was a short story I did some time ago that started off like this:
When it gets dark like this all of me wait crouched for me, wait like thieves. If I bump into myself I’ll be replaced. Lying snugly in my bed I’m able to touch firm reality. Wrapped head to toe in a cocoon of warm covers comes the realization that I am alone. I am earth’s King and Brother.
A sense of isolation drives me toward a sliver of light.
I will pretend I had this dream.
One of my favorite songs, Change of Time by Josh Ritter, has this:
I had a dream last night
And rusting far below me
Battered hulls and broken hardships
Leviathan and Lonely
I was thirsty so I drank
And though it was salt water
There was something 'bout the way
It tasted so familiar
There’s sadness in wanting to return to dreams. Imagine if every day you were ripped from your home, thrown into a strange world of functions and transactions, and told “Exist!” Every day some bit of the dream would cling to you as you navigated your half-life. No wonder there’s something about longing that tastes so familiar. No wonder they’re called “alarm” clocks. An alarm signals danger, yes? We’ve been trying to signal ourselves to the terror of this waking state for a long time.
There are also those who try to form underground railroads to the Dreaming. Think of a work by an artist that stayed with you on much more than an entertaining level. We all have them, moments of connection like jewel fragments peeking out of clay. Moments of art where we know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we think we do. Star Trek has Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. I want to borrow that to add Infinite Dreams in Infinite Combinations, but dreams triggered by the remembrance of something familiar. Home. Eventually we’ll wind up back there. This waking world can only serve a purpose for so long. Until then, cherish the people who—often unwittingly—leave bread crumbs for you; a trail back to your own inherent glory.
Good morning to you, luvs, and here’s to your dreams of sleep.
Life, the universe, and everything creative
Towel Photo credit: EvelynGiggles via Foter.com / CC BY