This is something I’ve been struggling with recently for myriad reasons. Years ago when I first started blogging, a lot of the things I was saying were radical and different. Over a short period of time, I’ve lived to see a lot of my previously uncouth ideas get coopted into the mainstream. While on one hand I’m happy to be accepted into normal society, there’s also something subtly defeating about having my ideology shift from the “pretty fucking crazy” category to the “meh, average” box. It’s disorienting, in part because I was used to the shocked reactions. I kinda liked them. Now that my ideas are relatively mundane, I’ve found myself falling into a sort of trap – one where I’m trying to say the next most shocking thing, but also realizing that shock for shock’s value is cheap. I have to believe it.
As the things I’ve believed have become more commonplace, so has the commentary around it. When it comes to radical sexual and feminist issues, I find myself being drowned out. This has lead me to question the validity of my voice in these conversations – am I just adding to the din? Am I actually saying something new and interesting? Or am I falling behind?
Losing confidence as a writer is devastating. I used to run so quickly, and now I’m getting outpaced by the pack. There’s a lot of internalized insecurity that comes with that, especially because when I was in my so-called “prime” I didn’t get much traction in terms of my writing career. I got used to being on the forefront, which was my claim to fame, and now that I don’t have that, the self doubt is seeping in.
But beyond that, I’ll admit that a major contributing factor to this creative self doubt is a lack of a supportive creative circle. I wasn’t really prepared for the amount of push back and criticism I was going to receive, especially because the force of disdain outpushed the support from people who liked my writing. The support had always been fairly tepid. The disdain – cacophonous. Perhaps that’s the nature of being green – the negative comments hurt more than the positive comments helped. Which in turn made me feel like the negative responses to my writing were louder and therefore more valid. A trap, a trap, a trap.
Which made me reevaluate why I was writing in the first place. If I don’t have anything unique to say, why speak at all? If no one likes what I’m saying, why whether that storm? I used to believe I was destined for greatness, and then I took a few steps in that direction and caved beneath the pressure.
That’s not really me. Or, that’s not who I want to be. But it’s been hard to continue writing to no avail especially because at times some of the people I was closest to hated my writing the most. I think that’s what did it. Falling in love with someone who didn’t support my oldest, most basic dream – god, it was horrible. To be constantly questioned by someone I loved, someone with whom I shared so much time and physical contact and emotion. That’s what killed me. It killed my vision for myself. It killed my love of the game.
Coming back into believing myself has not been particularly fun. It’s an onerous task – trying to force joy back into a desert of emotion. Learning how to write for myself and only myself again because sometimes the people closest to me didn’t really give a fuck. Loving the game. The sport of stacking words and sentences. The thrill of infusing subtext and cultural reference into an otherwise mundane plot of words. It’s been easy to be joyless without my writing, because it’s been easy to be broken hearted. It’s been difficult to realize that even if my voice doesn’t *need* to be heard, these are things I need to say. I’ve weathered the costs of this already, but nothing has been more painful than losing touch with my own creativity.
So I have to ask myself: why haven’t I been aiming for greatness? When did I stop? Why have I been piddling in the middle, hoping for minor success. Why can’t I be great? Why not me? I’ve put the work in. I’ve been beautiful. I’m not the type of person who lets herself be crippled by the doubts sown by someone who doesn’t even matter in my life anymore. The best thing I can do in order to move on from that pain is to let go of every negative thing he put in my life. It’s time to aim for greatness. It’s time to start writing.