Welcome to Techie Tuesday here at More Cowbell!
This is the day each week when I unleash my inner geek and we talk about some groovy piece of technology or a technical point of writing.
Today, I’m taking a tiny departure from this to discuss what I consider to be the biggest roadblock to writers (or any other creative person).
Yep. You heard me. I firmly believe that the artist is the biggest obstacle to the artist, specifically the fears that we must overcome to embrace our fullest creativity.
Every creative person, from New York Times Bestselling Authors to the fresh new writers has the same fear, way deep down: Am I good enough?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I attended the DFW Writers’ Conference last week where I watched:
- Confident women leap into restrooms rather than face the agents they’d pitched to.
- No less than THREE people fighting panic attacks at the tables outside the pitching sessions.
- Writers literally breaking out in a sweat over saying hello to an agent.
I know it’s Texas and everyone’s pretty much sweating all the time from the humidity but DANG, PEOPLE.
This universal angst really came home to me when another author interrupted a conversation I was having with James Rollins. (Yes, I just got a tiny rush saying that.)
You see, this person had one of his books and wanted it signed…and Jim was just sitting there, looking approachable. She had no way of knowing I’d just asked him a question. She was just a fan of the written word like the rest of us. More specifically, she was a fan of Jim’s and it’s likely every rational thought leaked out her ears when she spotted him lounging in a chair.
[As you can see below, he’s a handsome devil…]
When he finished signing the book, and the gal moved on, I asked him: Does it ever get old? (In retrospect, it was kind of a rude question, but at the time I really wanted to know.)
He got a happy, stunned kind of look on his face and said, “No, it really doesn’t. Every time someone walks up with one of my books, I’m still kind of surprised. Like, ‘You want to read one of my books?'”
And it occurred to me that the NYTBSA’s aren’t so different from the rest of us writers.
They dream of having their words reach out and touch others, just like us. And they worry about whether or not they can accomplish the task with this book, just like us.
One of my Facebook pals listed a snippet that spoke to me about why we all plop our butts down in front of our writing space, day after day, year after year:
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice–
though the whole house began to tremble
and you felt the old tug at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
— Mary Oliver, “The Journey”
Every artist I know has at least two voices in their head:
- The voice of their heart that compells them to put the fruit of their imaginations out where the world can share it.
- The voice that scoffs at them, questioning why anyone would be interested in whatever they created.
I hope on this fine Tuesday, as you prepare for a wonderful June, that you listen to the first voice.
Until you create something and share it, you are the only one who can hear this voice. If you ignore it, no one will ever know…except you. YOU will know, and you will regret not suiting up and wrestling the contents of your soul onto the page, the canvas or wherever.
Tell that second voice to go snort firecrackers and get the hell out of your way. My money’s on you… (If you need help, I’ll be happy to bring the beverages and the Sumo outfits!)
So…am I off-base and flu-addled here, or do y’all fight with that nasty-a$$ #2 voice the way I do? What has been the single biggest roadblock you’ve had to overcome as an artist? Are you still working through it, or have you conquered the fear. If the answer to that is yes, how did you do it? Enquiring minds need to know these things here at More Cowbell!
ANNOUNCEMENT: Friday is an exciting day for the creative community. You’ll want to be sure to tune into Kristen Lamb’s blog for a big announcement! All I’m going to say is, Kristen is creating something that will be invaluable to every artist. I’m dancing in my flip-flops, waiting for June 1st.