“Anxious writers obey rules;
Rebellious writers break rules;
Artists master the form.”

ROBERT MCKEE

I’m a nervous writer. I am a long, long way from being a master of anything. There are stories I’m afraid to write. Aah yes, to throw open the old wounds like patio doors and air everyone’s dirty laundry and their dirty little secrets… How truly wonderful it could be to throw someone under the bus… figuratively speaking.

Think ‘sociopath’, not ‘psychopath.’

But I’m not going to write them, am I… I care too much. Seeing how we’re all connected, I can’t write about the nasty and the cruel, because it’s all part of me. And I don’t really know their secrets, do I?

Of course, I know only the parts of themselves they showed me.

Sure, I know the claw marks they left, the cold shoulders they turned, the slap of their indifference… but I can only sit here in my fish-bowl life and comment on their fish-bowl (it’s better, worse, they’re so lucky…) Knowing that, for each and every one of us, it doesn’t feel like a fish-bowl but solitary confinement, our eyes, tiny pin-holes looking out on the world. We judge others’ outsides from our insides, their highlight reel by our out-takes and bloopers as the saying goes.

Is anyone served by reading about my trauma? Is anyone healed from their own pain by reading about those worse off? Maybe… is it a case of I complained about my shoes until I met a child with no feet…

Many fiction writers start out writing memoirs or biographies then give up on the real because the unreal tells the truth while the real often hedges and shimmies and begs pardon.

Geez, does any of this make sense?


Do you believe in yourself? Do you back yourself as a writer or creative? Do you believe the story you tell about yourself? I struggle with this. It’s better now that I am writing, or perhaps it’s better now that I’m not making any money from my art… hey, I think I’m onto something here. Writing isn’t a problem but lordy, do I struggle when it comes to promoting or selling my work. I was a mess with this stuff when I was painting. The story I believed about myself was that I was not talented enough to make a living as a painter even though that was precisely what I was doing.

Do you tell the truth about yourself? To yourself or others. It’s time to tell the truth. It’s time to take our work seriously but not ourselves too much. It’s time to back ourselves, to put it out there, to learn to listen to feedback and criticism, take it on board, ship it, work it, and keep on trucking.

Feature Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

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