Before I share my existential angst for the day, I need to categorically state: I am not fishing for reassurance or sympathy. If I get that in response to this post it will be confirmation that I’m unable to express ideas through the use the written language and I will go out into the back yard in my purple pajamas, dig a deep hole and pull the dirt in on top of myself.
It’s a niggling, hollow, anxious feeling of self doubt I’m having today. Just when the rhythm of writing, the study of craft, the balance of creativity and process seemed to be coming together, a chasm of uncertainty opened up beneath my feet.
Does this happen? Is this normal? Do “real” writers ever get part way through a draft and suddenly wonder if it’s all a big pile of crap?
I wonder if it’s like that phenomenon that used to happen back in the seventies, when experimentation with mind altering substances was a great way to spend a Saturday night. We’d stay up all hours of the night, chain smoking Marlboros, getting all excited about our radical new ideas and philosophies and by morning, the genius had all left the room and we found ourselves wondering what the hell we could have been thinking?
Is it because I turned in the first excerpt to my workshop instructor last night for critique and all the way home I couldn’t help but pick my own work apart? That before even getting the feedback, I know some of the problems already?
Is it that I’m thinking maybe this whole time, without getting any authoritative feedback on what I’m doing, I’ve been living in that shadow world of 1977 in that ratty apartment in a New England mill town, incense burning, pupils dilated until the irises are disappeared, cross legged on the floor with two or three other psilocybin deluded nutcases under the spell of imaginary promise?
Or is it just the opposite?
Would it be more deluded to press on with confidence, never experiencing moments of gripping self doubt? Typing and editing away without a doubt in the world that the end result will be a fine read? Or that maybe it will be good and published and people might like it? Do we need to build up the illusion of confidence in order to keep doing what we do, knowing that we can't stop, but that the reality is the vast majority of us will fail?
I know this will pass, probably by the end of the day, but it was a surprise that it hit so hard and so unexpectedly.
Do you ever have moments of intense self doubt? When? Why? What triggers it?