In a perfect world the managing editor of my journal, Angie, would have stepped in and stopped me from writing this before I even logged into the site. This is a not a perfect world.
One of the things I aim to do in my writing here and elsewhere is to be as honest as possible. My honesty is not loud nor does it often manifest itself in ways that fit the mold of a brooding writer. I am not one to delve into the opaque. I guess I’m pretty simple. And that’s what worries me.
For the last few years, I’ve been in silent competition with people who have no idea they are even in a race. I catch wind of publications, book deals, guest spots with prestigious outlets, and other activities that let writers know they’ve made it. And I turn green. And I turn red. And then I turn blue. I get jealous because I want to scream, “What about me?!” I get angry because I feel as if I’m never going to breakthrough. Lastly, I get sad because what if this moment is as good as it gets?
That last thought has been the topic of discussion with the two people closest to my writing, Angie and Jameel. Both of them have done their best to shake me out of my impostor syndrome. They’ve reminded me of my years of publishing, the success and consistency of Linden Avenue, the great things forthcoming. Especially, they remind me that I’ve done more in my thirty-nine years than many will do in a lifetime. The problem is that I never feel I’ve done enough. I’m always looking at what others are doing and comparing myself to what they’ve accomplished. Doing this means I’m never satisfied. It means I’m blind to what I’m doing and where I’m going.
I will never pretend to be wholly confident in what I write nor in my position in this community. In some ways, that works to my advantage. It makes me want to improve. It makes me want to figure out how to push myself off the beaten path and into the wildness of what my writing can be. It makes me Icarus. And we all know what happened to him, right? But before he came crashing back to Earth, he made it higher than those on the ground. Perhaps that’s what I need to concentrate on. Maybe those writers I am in secret competition with are the sun and the closer I try to get to them, the sooner I will crash and burn. What’s stopping me from being happy in my extraordinary ordinariness?
A few entries ago, I wrote about doing what you love and how detrimental that can be to writers who have a dual life. I’m one of those. Monday to Friday I sit in a cubicle. I am a worker bee. And as noble as my job can be, helping those people trying to stay afloat, it is not very glamorous. It is a rare occasion I can attend weekday meet and greets or network in ways that seem to make opportunities appear. And I’m shy. So in the end I feel like my writing is the only way people know who I am. And maybe it’s just not good enough. Sometimes, when I’m especially in my feelings, I think that I believe I am more talented than I actually am. Maybe I read my words and feel them in ways the world never will.
But there are those times when I’m convinced I’ve yet to find my audience, my niche. I know my strengths and perhaps once I find those people interested in what I have to say all of this doubt will dissipate. I’m hoping it will. In the meantime, I’ll continue to keep my head down and write. There are so many things I want to say. I just need to avoid the sun and enjoy the view.