Potassium and caffeine

One of a writer’s many hurdles is self-doubt, often manifesting in the form of a voice that asks “What do you have to write about anyway? What makes you think you’ve anything even remotely interesting to say?” It’s a fair question. I’ve wondered about the answer for a long time. I went to a workshop recently, hoping to find at least part of a strategy I could use next time the voice of my self-doubt piped up. Sadly, I left none the wiser. Then, over coffee and a banana, I started writing the draft for this blog entry and the answer came to me.

If I don’t believe I have anything worthwhile to say, why do I even bother breathing in and out?

This is not a world where only a select few are capable of capturing in words, paint, song, or whatever other medium you care to name, something that has meaning or impact for someone else. It doesn’t take intelligence or finesse; it need not be something that strikes at the core of millions. One person can, by attempting to express themselves in some way, make a profound difference to at least one other person in the world. That difference may last only a heartbeat and be forgotten before the next dawn. It might be a negative thing, an unwitting act, a great and wonderful gift. It doesn’t matter. An insect has the power to make me stop and stare. I’ll hold my breath to marvel at a thundercloud, smile at a rainbow, feel my heart lift at the sound of a wren singing in the backyard. It’s the same when I hear a new song on the radio, or an old one from our CD collection. Sometimes a painting or photograph impresses the hell out of me, and nothing – nothing at all – rivals a good book.

The wide, wide world of the world-wide web is so vast, populated and overwhelming that an ordinary blog written by someone living an ordinary life can seem like a waste of time. I’ve thought so for a while now, and I’ve started to feel the same way about my photographs, my jewellery-making, my life. Maybe it’s just the unlikely combination of banana and a large flat white for lunch, but I’ve had a complete turnaround. What’s more, I’ve realised that even if I loved writing for nothing more than the act of doing it, I should keep blogging. If I left my draft for this entry in my notebook – seen by no one but me – it would be like I wanted it kept secret. Like I was ashamed of it. As long as I’m going to keep inhaling and exhaling, I’m going to keep writing. And yes, I’m going to keep trying to get my work into print too; that’s not something I know how to let go of. That means I have to find a kind of common ground with a complete stranger – an agent, an editor, a potential reader browsing the bookshelves – but by common, I don’t mean bland or so broad in appeal that all appeal is lost. I won’t try to imagine what others want; that’s an impossible quest. Who does the artist slave over a canvas for? Does the photographer think of anyone else at the moment they hit the shutter button?

Who do writers write for?

I’ll always hope someone else will like what I do, but I’ll be writing for me. 

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Explore posts in the same categories: cliche, self-doubt, Writing

3 Comments on “Potassium and caffeine”

  1. peppergroyne Says:

    For me the saddest things are the unread book, the unseen artwork, the unheard song and the unshared thought!

    You have the opportunity to add your unique view on a topic to the collective culture – but you have to get it out there. While the observation that there are no original [insert item here], may be correct at the highest level, no-one has seen, written or vocalised it your way … and that is where the value is.

    Keep creating, cause there is at least one fan out there … me 🙂

  2. leedublin Says:

    Thanks ‘groyne. You are a true friend.

    Of course, I would argue that perhaps some thoughts should remain unshared… Right? 🙂


  3. Well, while I would love to agree with you, I would be shooting myself in the foot as we all know I have no filter between my thought patterns and my mouth – makes for some interesting conversations though 😉


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