Tuesday, 19 April 2016
Doubt - We All Do It
I was nervous about attending but had a lovely evening with parents and teachers alike. I came away happy and feeling that I'd offered up some useful ideas and generally added to the enthusiasm shown by everyone there. I arrived home chirpy and chatty.
The next morning though, I began to doubt myself. Maybe I'd talked too much. Perhaps the teachers had just pretended that my ideas were good when actually I was being annoying. What if they didn't ask me back? What if I had earmarked my children as the offspring of that tedious, writer woman? What if, what if, what if?
I thought back over the meeting, what I'd said and how I'd reacted to what other people had said, and I didn't seem to have talked too much. I hadn't done the 'open mouth, brain falls out' thing that so often spills my thoughts out at inappropriate times. I seemed to have behaved. So why did I doubt myself?
I'm currently submitting my manuscript to literary agents. So far I've had eight rejections, most with encouraging 'keep submitting but it's not for us' feedback, but still a no. Gradually, my initial belief in my novel has been ground down to the point where I wonder if it's good enough. Now I can see that the self doubt in one area of my life is leaking into others too.
As creatives, we offer up our souls when we share our creative works so it can be devastating when they are rejected. We go from cheerful exuberance to living under a grey cloud that blocks out the sunshine and steals away the colour in our world.
I know I'm not the only creative to have self doubts. In a writing group I'm part of, I hear these kind of thoughts all the time. Our ideas shine bright in our internal worlds but in the cold, critical arena out there, we begin to pick them to pieces. We not only doubt ourselves. We turn on ourselves too.
Self doubt is horrible but it's also useful and perfectly natural. It's useful because on occasion it can cause us to second-check ourselves and our work, which is never a bad thing. It's natural because we care about what we create. It's ok to have a little self doubt now and then. We shouldn't kick ourselves for that.
So today, I'm being kind to myself. I'm wrapping up in my shawl with a cup of tea and concentrating on my writing and my own internal imaginings. Tomorrow, I'll tackle the cloud.