Lately I've been thinking about writing again, for the first time in awhile. Discouragement about the value and quality of my work means that I've excluded myself from continuing. I've given myself the excuse of not soldiering on because __________ and because of _____________ which logically led to _____________...
There's a way to work through this, I know it. I can't not write. I've established that by the sleeplessness, the constant nagging desire to be writing. So that means I have to write. Which means I have to find a way through this equally persistent nagging self-doubt.
I read projects of mine that are in various stages of completion and I'm encouraged by how strong the writing is. There is a kernel of value there, I just need to pick a project and plunge in.
I feel like the petulant child in constant search for validation.
Lately, I've been involved in a local production of Damn Yankees and I may have stumbled onto the solution to my writing doubts.
If you've ever performed before a live audience you know how harrowing it can be. Before you, from your perspective, is a room filled with critics. People naturally are grading your performance. Current and wannabe actors sitting in rows of theater seating who are looking up and thinking "I would do that differently" or "He's flat" or "He's rushing his lines."
The actor knows this. The solution is to focus on a fixed point at the back of the room and project to it. In this way you acknowledge there is an out-of-focus blob of people there and that's it.
So it must be for the writer, I believe. The potential reader is the envious wannabe, let's say. The potential readers are all those others who you know can turn a better phrase, craft a better story. By focusing on him or her, you're giving credence to your own delusional assumption that they are reading your material and ripping you apart. Instead, I need to focus at the back of the room. A fixed point that blurs the reader, and therefore diminishes their importance while not completely eliminating them from the equation. (Let's face it, we need the audience to feel that edge of fear that propels us on. As it goes with writing.)
I do believe in the quality of my writing. I think it has a place somewhere, that there are readers who take from it something of value. And I acknowledge at the same time that there are people known to me and unknown who are superior writers.
I applaud them here, and then put them out of focus.