Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Have Performance Anxiety

I am used to writing for other reasons than publication.

I am used to writing because I have too many feelings and I need to get them out.  I am used to writing because I have something to say and my friends are tired of me reiterating my diatribes in new and improved witticism form.  I am used to writing because it is one in the morning and I have no one to talk to.  I am used to writing because I see an image in my head, or because something struck me in a certain way and I need to get it down to look at it better.  I am used to writing because it is easier to judge the truth of an idea if it appears in black and white on a page rather than inside my head.

My  blog has ten followers, and most of them are my closest friends whom I've coerced into reading it.

I am not used to writing because other people want to read it.

This is a totally stupid anxiety that I'm having lately, and not even founded on anything worthwhile, because I've gotten one story accepted for publication, and it hasn't even been posted yet.  But I am freaking out.  All of the whatifs that most people have before they get published are coming out now: whatif I am only a so-so writer?  whatif I can never learn to do what I want to do with my words?  whatif no one cares?  whatif people hate it?  Now, suddenly, one of my pieces is actually going to get read by someone other than my mother, and I don't know what to do--and more specifically, I don't know what to write.  I have three different ideas going right now and every time I sit down to work on them I jump back up and go running or clean my dishes, because I am skittish.  Now I know I am capable of this thing that I wanted, that I am capable of writing something good--so what if, now, I write something bad?

It was one thing if I didn't have it in me.

Now I know I do, and it's terrifying.

How do I forget about all of these things, and go back to writing just because I like to write?  Just because I have something I want to get down, something that is beautiful to me?  How can I go back to knowing, as William Faulkner said, that "the basest of all things is to be afraid?"  How can I stop asking myself, "Now, when will I be blown up?"

Note: these are not rhetorical questions.  I really need an answer.  Thanks.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's a good thing to ask those questions, and if you get a worthwhile answer or partial answer to any of them, great. But ultimately, like anyone with a passion for a particular art or craft, it's probably got ahold of you like a drug. So even if you momentarily give up in despair, your soul WILL demand its hit once in awhile, and that will keep the flame alive until your conscious self accepts its fate and returns to the creative process. If you actually stop WANTING to write for a long time, instead of merely being angsty about it, THAT's when you should be worried. IMHO.