I’ve not met a writer without confidence issues. Even the ones with agents, publishing deals, books on library shelves, works in progress, PhDs, teaching posts, stacks of invitations to speak on panels and awards, have a voice inside them that says, ‘I can’t do this’. Perhaps if you don’t have that voice, you should sit down and ask yourself if you should have it, you know, just in case.
My inner voice is loud and stroppy, the kind that stops everybody enjoying themselves and is a right pain in the arse. Staring at a blank page, I am sure that I have nothing to say and cannot form a sentence. When I look at something I’ve written, it is appalling rubbish, hackneyed, unoriginal and barely literate. How could I do that to my beloved language? I am ashamed, not just of my incompetence, but of my gall and arrogance for thinking I could do this. So I should stop.
No. Firstly because, even if my voice is speaking truth, I am still allowed to write. No one has ever told me that I can’t dance or sing or draw a picture because I’m not very good at it. They might choose not to be my audience. I might be wasting my own time if I enter competitions or try to make a living form these activities, but I am free to express myself through interpretative dance if I wish. And if I can write but still might not ‘make it’ as a published writer, I am still allowed to try. It’s my ambition, my dream, and I am allowed to invest in it.
Thus leading to secondly. Secondly, I can write. People for whom I have massive respect, people with a vested interest in making me stop and go away, have said that I can write. Even now, the voice in my head is screaming at me that I cannot, should not, believe those people. Today, at this moment, I choose to squash that voice, even if it is only for today, at this moment. I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t draw, I will never run a marathon, no one wants to see me behind the wheel of car, but I can write. So, fuck off you irritating bastard voice in my head! I have things to write.