Has it really been fifty days already? Because it feels like it’s been about a thousand. While I may not have created a fully-fledged blog post for each day, I’m still breaking my brain for content that isn’t entirely recycled and stale.
This was not an easy challenge, and I think I’m going to need to sit myself down and have a long, very serious monologue in my own general direction about why this would’ve probably been a hair easier if it were planned out a little more. It has definitely had its fun moments, though, and this has been enough hard work to make me appreciate the fact that I need to keep moving as a writer no matter how lazy or tired I’m feeling. Even if it’s just a little bit of work for the day, I still end up feeling better than I would had I just done absolutely nothing.
Standard warning: this is a very introspective post, which no doubt happened because I’ve had too much time alone with my thoughts (and they’re treacherous little bastards).
Day Fifty – The difficulties of being my own worst enemy
If you’re still reading, and thinking “Oh shit, this can’t end well”, I’d like to point out that I totally said this was probably going to some dark and unhappy places. But first, here’s something completely ridiculous and unrelated. You’ll thank me later, and by thank me I mean curse my name like I’ve been your worst enemy since the day you were born.
I’m not even a little sorry for that.
A comment I’ve gotten from a number of people, none of whom having any reason to conspire together in terms of making such a comment, is that I’m my own worst enemy, my own biggest critic, and so on. Admittedly, there may be a measure of truth to those statements, and by that I mean there probably is most definitely truth involved somewhere. This will definitely go back to some previous post topics, by the way, but that shouldn’t be surprising.
From what I understand, every creative person lives with some level of self-loathing. There are probably nicer, more tame ways of putting that, but for the sake of honesty I think it’s best to just address it as some self-loathing. It’s not like artists wake up in the morning, brew up a cup of coffee, and then go about thinking of way to hate themselves (I mean, unless that’s how some people do start their day). It’s more of a creeping, slow and insidious sort of problem. A lot of it, for me at least, stems from social comparison issues.
I’m an expert at comparing myself to others. It’s a lot easier to look at people’s successes and think “Why haven’t I managed to achieve that in life yet?”, which of course leads to all sorts of nasty and self-destructive sorts of thoughts.
As a writer, I know what I need to do to succeed. Write constantly, read often, submit things for publication consideration, accept rejections, and celebrate accepted works while continuing to improve and submit elsewhere. There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, since real life tends to throw other important things into the mix like a day job, family responsibilities and issues, bills, and so on. It’s a dream that has a lot of room for looking at others and comparing accomplishments, much to my detriment in many cases. It shouldn’t be, of course, which is a lot of where the comments about me being my own worst critic come in.
My latest example has to do with having a book on its way to being published. Not even a week after that victory–a huge, tremendous, wonderful victory that I should still be dancing in the streets over–and I already started thinking about how people might not accept Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King as a credible piece of published fiction. I won the rights to get it published in a contest, which isn’t the same as earning them. Therefore, in my mind, it wasn’t as valid a novel. The correct reaction to such lines of thinking is “What a load of bullshit”, by the way. I’m capable of acknowledging that, but it doesn’t always stop me from dwelling on the subject with this precise mindset.
One of the things Chrisy, my entirely remarkable sister who is now living in New York and working damn hard at achieving her dreams of acting for a living, did for me when I was first moving out to Hollidaysburg was she made me a CD to commemorate me taking a big step forward in this whole ugly business of being a responsible, independent adult (something I sincerely doubt I will ever master, and that is a failure I’m entirely okay with). In that mix CD, amid all sorts of other songs, was “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” by The Avett Brothers. It quickly became my go-to song for times when I find myself thinking about how I wish I could be more like the people I idolize, or have my shit more together like some people I know personally. Naturally, I can’t bring it up without linking to it (and perhaps as some sort of compensation for linking to You Face Jaraxxus, an act I am still deeply unapologetic for committing).
Ultimately, it’s not at all about getting my shit together. I realize that. It’s about focusing on what I’m doing right, adjusting the things I still need to work on, and moving forward as well as I can and not as quickly as I can. It’s not a matter of “whatever will be will be” so much as “I will be the person who determines my path, not based on the journey other people have taken but by my own skills and determination”. This will be something I’ll need reminding of from time to time, but I know it’s a step in the right direction, and it’s a Hell of a lot better than just looking around me, feeling inadequate, and giving up.
Also, I can’t give up because it doesn’t fit in with my fake, megalomaniac-like delusions of grandeur.