“It never occurred me to doubt myself.”
– Katherine Hepburn
Katherine you big, fat liar. The audacity really. How could you tell artists that somehow you can be impenetrable to the artists constant unhappy friend: doubt? Even if you are some kinda of magical, fearless android who can take creative risk after creative risk without any slight hesitation, how dare you assume that we would find your comment inspiring.
With your words you seem to be challenging others to do the same thing you (supposedly) did. Live happily without doubt.
Now I may be a beginning novelist, but I’m still gonna safely assume that the words of Ms. Hepburn are total BS. I want to make sure that I don’t pass on the same BS to those who seem to believe that I or any other artist are somehow without the same insecurities of most all people. I want this to be an honest blog that tells the true story of the pain and sacrifice and yes DOUBT that writers go through to publish a work.
Here are the doubts that constantly run through my head:
What if I suck? What if I’m wasting my time? How the hell am I going to make a living out of this? I’m too young to write a novel. No one will like what I write. My grammar blows. No one will publish it. Who will even read it? I should have stuck with acting, people always said I was good at that. I should have gone in a field that was more practical like what my friends did. They seem comfortable. I’m running out of time, I’ll miss the opportunity I was meant for! NO ONE WILL UNDERSTAND ME….!
And so on and so on. Sound familiar?
If you have doubts, you are not alone. It’s part of being human. I’m starting to believe that “fearlessness” is only a fictional trait. You can never be without fear. It’s like saying you can experience happylessness, or sadlessness, or any other emotion that is just wired into us as humans. So, the key for me has not been trying to get rid of Fear or Doubt (impossible), it’s how I deal with Fear and Doubt.
Does that mean I have mastered doubt as a writer? No. (My aforementioned doubts are freshly baked out of the mind oven.) But recently, what I have been finding helpful is balancing all my cold, itchy doubts with those warm, fuzzy certainties. It’s kinda like I’m in a boxing match, and the guy hits me with doubt, and I hit him back with a certainty, and that keeps me from being knocked out.
POW! Doubt: I should have picked something more practical do to.
BAM! Certainty: I love to write. What else would I do?
POW! Doubt: No one will like what I write.
BAM! Certainty: I love what I write. Would I prefer writing something that I hate that others would love? No.
KA-POW! Doubt: I’ll run out of time.
KA-BLAM! Certainty: It took seven years for Tony Award-Winning Playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda to write his Tony Award-Winning Musical In the Heights. I have 7 years before I can start to worry.
It’s boxing match that I’m not sure ever ends. But I’d imagine if I ever do get published that would be one nice KO of my doubts.
I think this approach is more practical. What do you think? Is fear an emotion we can get rid of? Is doubt something we will eventually “defeat” or “avoid”? How do you deal with your fears and doubts?
In the meantime: I’m sorry Ms. Hepburn, but all artists can’t be perfect, fearless beings like you. I’ve got my doubts. But thankfully, I also know that there ARE things that are certain in my life, and I’ll keep holding on to those to keep my fears at bay and my hopes afloat.
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