#writingcraft: Perceptive Anguish

#writingcraft: Perceptive Anguish

It was about six months ago when I started having grave doubts about my abilities as a writer. Before that time, I thought I had a fleeting shot at getting a book published. Yet, in spite of the distress I felt every time I sat at my desk, I continued to write my blog posts and drudge along with my work-in-progress.

I would stare at my project on the screen in front of me wondering if my ability was real or was I just deluding myself. Was anything I wrote worth reading? Judging from what was glaring back at me, I would assess with the answer, “No.”

When it comes to my blog, I have thought the same on a regular basis. Yet, I will not give it up for the simple reason of loving to write. Maybe there are not many people reading my posts but I know there are, at least, a few.

I asked myself, “Why are you putting yourself through this torture? You would have a better chance succeeding as an oil driller or an opera singer.”

I, finally, would close the file lying dormant on the screen and walked out of the room. This was not to say I was defeated. No way was I going to give up. I am much too obstinate for that. I was merely frustrated to the point of being complete thwarted. My mind could not handle the obstructions of my poorly lacking of creativity for one more minute–for the time being.

It was later that I took the time to scrutinize the deficiency I saw in myself and why I kept beating myself up trying to be a writer. Why, in heaven’s name, would a person keep trying to write something totally creative when she does not have any imaginative talent?

Realistically, I do have some creative talent, although I do not have the kind where I can start from scratch. I can take facts and embellish them or put them in a different light, even to the point where a person cannot see the facts sometimes, although I usually feel like I have done harm to the piece and to myself in those cases.

This is different from a purely imaginative mind, which many successful writers have. They can take a setting and some dialogue and, magically, turn it into an original 90,000-word novel. This certainly is not me. I need a basis of a whole story that I can manipulate and twist around into my own original 65,000-word novel. [Notice the difference in the number of words.] Even with all the altering I might accomplish, I would want the original story to peek through. Why? I believe that story [whichever one it is] is one of a kind and needs to be presented for reading. Is this creative non-fiction? I have no idea. It is something I need to research during the next few months while the leaves change and fall from the trees.

Are my inabilities with original imaginary ideas an indicator saying I probably have what is known as Creative Fear? Creative Fear, according to Angela Ackerman is as follows:

“The fear of how our writing will be received can become so crippling that it stops us in our tracks … often before we even put figurative/literal pen to paper. Instead of working hard and worrying about reception later, you spend minutes or hours or days fretting about what “people” will think when they read your work.” ~Writers Helping Writers

When it comes to creating a worthwhile story that is completely fresh and distinctive, I, honestly, do not think I have it in me. Is this creative fear? Possibly. There is a chance I am, somehow, blocking myself from delving into the truly creative part of my mind. Maybe this is why I was a “rebel” when I was in high school instead of being a “wild child”. Maybe I am obsessed with control to the point where it involves how my brain processes all I do at a keyboard. The thought of letting go of control seems beyond possibility to me.

I am relatively certain I am not the only one like this. Although there may not be many writers with this problem of perceptive anguish, I cannot fathom being the only writer who stops herself subconsciously from creating pieces that she could be proud of.

§

Do you have perceptive anguish?

“Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”
Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom

 

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18 Replies to “#writingcraft: Perceptive Anguish”

  1. Glynis, have you considered taking a writing course at a local college or attending a writer’s conference? I think you could get a lot of useful information from both sources. And I also think that being around other writers would boost your sense of yourself. You would realize that you’re not alone in facing your problems and that there are ways of overcoming your self doubt. I wish you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shari, this is a small town without any of the resources one would find in a city. There are very few people here who even browse through the used bookstore on Main Street, The Book Cedar. I am without transportation, which does not help matters and my husband and I have to pinch pennies until they squeal like little pigs. The local college is a town away. In fact, it is the university I attended to finish up my associate degree in Sociology/Social Work. If I had the transportation, I would be trying to find the money to attend a couple of classes there again. Online classes are a thought but I do not think I would do well at them. I need the classroom experience.

      I have written articles for a newsletter of an organization I used to work for and I am seriously thinking about going that way again. Maybe even get the courage to approach the editor of the local newspaper.

      Like

  2. I’m a big believer in going with what works. Let’s say you creatively render a new look on a known set of circumstances. That’s your work. Maybe you use a known point in history as a setting, or a starting point, the rest of the story is yours. Maybe, you concoct the whole thing in your mind. Clearly, your story. I’m not sure I see much of a difference.

    I love to read well-told stories. It’s the way you tell the story that matters. What facts, or fiction you choose to include. Which character you bring to light. Is it the football star? Maybe the brainiac, or the cheerleader. Or, maybe it’d that rebel child not everyone understood.

    Every event, imagined or historic, is surrounded by many stories. They haven’t all been told. Although you didn’t ask for an answer, I keep coming back here because of the way you tell your stories. Even if the story is how you struggle with writing, it’s well told.

    I hope hope you figure this out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As I told Shari above, I am seriously considering writing articles for magazines and/or newspapers. One of my readers, Janet, who lived in Colorado, writes for her local paper and the Denver Post. I have already written articles for an organization’s newsletter even though it was many years ago. At least I am familiar with this type of writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We may have different goals but you sound like you do what I do. We overthink what we perceive as flaws. It gets in our way. I like how you describe yourself as obstinate….I like using persistent. 🙂 You can do this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the support, April. I know you are right. I do overthink on the negative. And then there is that pesky impatient strike in me too, which does not help matters any. Such is life. 🐱

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The past six months have helped me come a long way in shedding any qualms I have about my writing. Plus, last week I attended a talk by Colleen Story at an NFAA meeting. She spoke on self-doubt. After, everyone got a finger-puppet monster and a certificate. I’ve named my self-doubt monster Gertrude and I am not going to feed her anymore. Like most things in life, I think about them too much, hence why I don’t submit for publication. Action gets results. I am vowing to change that. Do things, publish, make mistakes, but don’t hold back so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I empathize with your struggle, Glynis; I had similar feelings when I first started writing. Then I took a memoir class with an excellent instructor who explained creative nonfiction to me, and that’s what I began to write and the words flowed. The basis of everything I write is true: the settings, events, my actions, my thoughts, my emotions and the reactions of others. But the details I surround them with come as much from my imagination as my memory. As she explained it, it’s OK to have my brother Bob, if he was present and part of the story, say or do something that I don’t specifically remember, but that would have been typical of what he would have said or done in the circumstances. So far no one in my family has quibbled at the liberties I took. I did the same thing with a short story I wrote that had some success. I took a situation a friend of mine experienced, changed setting, character, everything, but kept the same plot points. By the time my imagination had worked it over, my friend didn’t recognize it as her story. It had become mine. Again, you have analyzed your problem well. I hope this gives you a way to think about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, you have given me the answer I have been looking for. Thank you so much! 😀

      I have a book written about a third of the way that I shelved because I was not sure about how it would be received if I ever got it published. It was all because I was using a part of my own life with many changed to it. Now I feel I can get it out again, once I have finished 2 other projects.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. If you enjoy writing, then that is half the battle, and keep writing. I started writing because like you, I loved to write, and that is the one and only reason why I continue to write. So keep writing, Glynis 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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