Don’t worry, this won’t be a political rant, (although I could easily ramble on about a political culture that is pushing backward rather than forward).
No, this is a post about the silent enemies inside ourselves, that prevent us from taking even the tiniest steps in any direction. Thus leaving us frozen in place, staring at nothing, drooling a little.
These are the enemies I currently face. But, I want to confront them by bringing them out into the light. We all have our own versions of these inside ourselves. There is no cure-all, like throwing a golden ring into the Mountain of Doom, which will destroy these enemies by destroying their power source. These enemies are subtle and sneaky. They work through quiet manipulation and silent whispers that slowly cause chaos and bring you to a screeching halt.
As I woke up this morning, I realized that I am under attack, but I am counterattacking the only way I know how . . . through honest words.
Enemy #1: The Green-Eyed Monster
Yesterday Sarah had her second play date of the week. I listened to the girlish giggles and squeals as the two adventures fearlessly conquered the mountain in the backyard. I know I wrote just the other day about Sarah’s fears, that I find frustrating, but in other ways she is fearless, especially when it comes to using her body or being silly.
I found myself envying Sarah, for the carefree friendship and willingness to get scratched up in the name of adventure. Could I have joined them? Sure, except that in an unprecedented sneak attack my back twinged yesterday morning as I tried to get into my cozy chair.
Yes, my back rebelled about getting into a chair AND I discovered that I am jealous of my daughter.
A feeling which closely links to . . .
Enemy #2: Loneliness
We all know writing can be a lonely business. That is part of the craft, in a way, but I discovered in my feelings of envy for my daughter that loneliness can also be an impassable barrier. Let me try to explain. This week has been a struggle for me as a Mom. Sarah was home for spring break, but Nathan did not have spring break (nor did I technically, I have to teach today). Sarah and I have clashed in every way possible, despite huge efforts on both sides. Hence the decision to bring in play dates, a distraction of fun for her and a break from the tension for both of us.
But I can’t deny that her joy in her friends made me feel even lonelier.
Add to that the fact that Nathan didn’t just work his regular schedule this week, but also had to work nights as it was tech week for a production. I am used to that, it is part of the life in the theatre, but it didn’t help my loneliness and frustration.
To combat the loneliness yesterday, I tried to invite my characters in. I wanted to write about them. I wanted to have conversation with them. I wanted to become their friend.
But they wouldn’t come out to play. “Deal with this!” they each said, and hid away from my overwhelming emotional turmoil.
I found myself trying too hard, thinking too much, and staring hopelessly at nothing. Which of course leads to . . .
Enemy #3: The Inner Critic or The Over-thinking Brain
We all know this one. It’s that little critic inside ourselves that says everything we do is awful. My inner critic has teamed up with my Over-thinking brain. When I think too much, I never get anything done. I start doubting. I start second-guessing. Words don’t flow, because I start trying to be creative rather than just being creative. I manipulate words in search of the perfect turn-of-phrase, or a new way of staring on old emotion. [I even just struggled with that, trying to be all fancy with the use of the word delectable--which got me nowhere, as you can see]
IC and OTB are the perfect team to completely shut me down. I run away, afraid to try, and hide behind other people’s writing. I know, reading makes you a better writer, but not when IC and OTB have me under their control. Like puppet masters, they point out the perfection in other words.
“See, this person knows how to create a character without lots of exposition” says OTB.
“This plot is so much clearer and more interesting than yours,” pipes in IC.
The cacophony in my brain forces me to surrender, and I end up watching tv or playing computer games before crawling into bed early to read myself to sleep.
Throwing Down the Gauntlet
Today I am saying to these enemies, “BRING IT ON!!” I know they are there, they cannot sneak up on me anymore. I realize they will not simply disappear, but I will fight their power over me with everything I’ve got.
This is WAR!