A Writer Succumbing to Himself

It never ceases to surprise. The quick recoil in my stomach – the flood of negative thoughts – the cliff of failure just waiting for me to tilt over into the abyss.

I’m always taken back by the sudden lack of confidence in writing which inevitably rears its ugly head from time to time.

This particular case is in relationship to a full-length play I just finished. I’ve been rather indecisive about my thoughts concerning this play. Throughout several revisions I felt quite uninspired by my work, not sure what to think about it. As I was reading it through one more time this week, I began to enjoy it, thinking that perhaps it had some merit after all. With all my new-found confidence, I reached out to some theatre professionals about arranging a possible workshop reading for the script. They replied quickly that they would be amenable to such an activity and would be happy to put together an opportunity for a read-through with actors.

At that moment, the fear struck. Severe doubt about the play whipped through my mind. It’s juvenile, it’s not a professional play, it’s simple, it’s uninspiring, it’s nothing no troupe would ever want to perform, it’s different from what’s out there, it’s, it’s, it’s…

Wow! It hit me hard. It’s not the first time, nor the last, but it does have to expected if a writer ever wants to do something with his or her writing.

Someone else could have written this play better.

Someone else would have crisper dialogue.

Someone else would have wittier language.

Someone else would have created more well-defined characters.

Someone else …

At this point, a writer has a choice: go boldly or go home. This is a writer’s moment. For what purpose are you writing? Are you writing to prove that you’re the best writer in the world?  Or are you writing to tell the story that you’ve been given?

Which is it?

Once I calmed myself, I began to re-think in a more logical manner a few extremely important questions which I hope could help any writer:

  • Am I happy with the story? (regardless of what anyone else thinks)
  • Is this the story I want to tell? (regardless of whether someone else would ever want to produce it)
  • Have I put my best effort into this story?
  • Would I be proud to list my name by the story’s title?

Writer’s get ideas and creatively put them into action. Writer’s are a vulnerable breed, willing to let the words go, not knowing how they will be perceived or whether or not they will have any lasting value.

Ultimately, for myself, it comes down to whether or not I’m willing to succumb to myself. Am I willing to accept the fact that I write the way I write? Am I willing to acknowledge my shortcomings, and focus on writing the stories that best highlight my given talents? Am I willing to be comfortable in my own skin and just release my words into the world, willing to accept the criticism or praise or both?

The answer is yes. For good or bad, I’m putting it out there because that’s what writers do. And I am a writer.

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