there is a little voice in our head that prattles on about things both insignificant and consequential. its volume goes up exponentially, though, when we are about to start or are in the midst of, some creative work. or anything that matters to us. below is a conversation between me and that voice in my head (don’t think me crazy plis). i’ve chosen to name him Sam for the time being because that doesn’t make him seem that fearful and forbidding. he is punctual enough to come sit with me when i start to write and is nowhere to be found when my work is appreciated. also, he looks like an orange banana with a green cap on his head. currently. sometimes he is the shark from the movie Jaws (though i haven’t seen it) and sometimes he is Frankenstein in a dark, dark castle.
that being said, i’ll probably change his face and name tomorrow or the day after.
Sam: huuuloooo, cutie pie. watcha doin’?
me: *beams out a big, happy smile* writing out a blog post. i’m so excited!
Sam: *beams out a brighter smile than mine* oh, yes? let’s see what you’ve got here.
i angle the screen towards him so he can read what i’ve been writing.
Sam: this?! you call this writing? *look at me with immeasurable pity in his eyes; i go speechless* this isn’t good enough, honey.
me: well… i’m gonna make it better, don’t ya worry. this is just the first, rough draft.
Sam: *pulls up a chair next to me* i think you’ve forgotten what i told you the last time and the time before that and even before that. in fact, i’ve been telling it to you over and over again and yet, you forget. you can’t even find it in you to write everyday or to want to give it your best. that is not how great writers are made, my ignorant lady. you gotta be serious about this work. you gotta have your life figured out and your writing figured out 100%. you need it to be perfect at this, geddit? there is simply no room for mistakes. you’ve got to get it perfect before it means anything or has any value. because if it isn’t… omaigod! where are we gonna hide our face? the world is gonna see you for the fraud that you are.
Sam: *smiles benevolently* yep, you, my child. you’re actually The Fraud. i am being really kind here, calling you out for the Truth of Your Most Unholy Being. no one will tell you this. they’ll lather your mind with their lies meant to block the Truth. atleast we both can stop pretending that you know how to write, or write brilliantly, or that you actually care about this work. who are you kidding? we both know you’re here for validation alone. to fill up that prickly little ego of yours that just can’t be satisfied.
me: *gives a blank look* i don’t get what you mean… of course i love to write!
Sam: *smiles with even more benevolence and snide indulgence* we can drop the pretense here and keep that for the world to see. between the both of us, we know how much you really suck at this. like… there is no potential in it for you. you get that, right? sorry honey but no matter how hard you try it’s never gonna be good enough. all the insight the world ever needed is floating around in the ether already. what can you add? what do you have to add?
*sees my hurt face*
i am here to rally you on, though, and help you as best as i can. *perks up considerably* so!! what are we working on today?
i gulp and prepare myself for the inner torment that i am going to have to go through (goodness knows for how long!) just to write one blog post.
me: ummm. just a couple of ideas i jotted in my Ideas Notebook. *fishes out notebook from bag* here, have a look.
Sam: *takes the notebook and leafs through it.*
i sit and wait for the feedback.
Sam: *shuts it and hands it back to me with a resigned look on face.*
Sam: well.. i think your ideas are real boring and no one wants to hear about them.
me: *shocked and infinitely hurt* why would you say that?
Sam: isn’t it obvious to you? they have all been shared before. they are all over the Internet, hun. no one cares what you have to say about it. you gonna repeat? where’s the originality?
me: *real timidly* umm.. i… well, yes they have been written about before but my experience is unique you know. how i phrase it is unique and what i learned from it is singular to me, too. i think that would account for some originality and authenticity.
Sam: *real shocked that i said something other than yes or okay* excuse me? authenticity and originality? did you just breathe your impostor energy onto those words? let me remind you what i already said before- you aren’t wired for greatness here, my child. we are just doing a drill to appease you in the moment. be thankful for my help and do as i say. do you want people to criticize you?
me: of course, not!
Sam: do you or do you not want to be good at this?
me: yes… i do. but didn’t you just say that i could never be?
Sam: *cheeks flushed red with anger* you will be good so long as you follow my directions and not get your head up in the clouds. do you understand me?
me: *nods frantically*
Sam: *flops back into chair* now lets review those ideas again. *picks up notebook and goes through the pages* hmmm… i think… you should write about… discipline.
me: discipline? err….but why? i don’t think i could put my heart into it or do it full justice right now.
Sam: you gonna object again, sweetie? remember that favorite blogger of yours? how perfect and immaculate and sorted out her blog (and possibly her life) is? she has the followers and people love her. well, she writes about discipline and health and stuff. you should write about it, too.
me: *real confused now* but didn’t you want me to be original…? this doesn’t really account for originality. i like the fact that she’s real about stuff. this would be me not being real.
Sam: *tosses notebook aside and crosses arms over chest* let me get this straight- you either do as i say or i am leaving. and let me remind you- i am the only sane voice of reason here. you simply can’t do without me. your work and your ‘creativity’ is gonna fall apart like those dominoes cards you stack up on one another.
me: *recoils* okay, okay! i won’t say no more. but *gets all excited and enthusiastic*… can we write about attention and presence and being in the moment, please? like… i feel there is just so much of mindless stuff that we do and there is the constant running and feeling like we aren’t enough. i think if we slowed down, we’d have a much better and healthier chance at being fulfilled, which, i think, is what we are all after. i read a Mary Oliver poem and omg it felt so energizing the way she described the forest being alive and talked about being present to it all. i think we should write about that. i want to learn more about it myself and share it with others.
Sam: *gives me a long, hard look* you do realize she is Mary Oliver? like The Wonderful Mary Oliver? she won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. she lived in the East Village and had a nice, big house and was very, very successful. sorry, pancake, but you aren’t qualified to write about attention yet.
me: then when will i be?
Sam: when i say so.
*moment of silence*
me: *gets up* i think i am done for today. thank you very much for your time and counsel.
Sam: oh, yes! storm away every time i try to lead you the right way. this is exactly why you’ll never amount to anything and no one is gonna care a bit about what you write or what you have to say. remember this, sugar. i’ll always be here to remind you of this. until then, *packs its own backpack to leave* have a good time. and do not show those petty ideas to me again. i neither engage with nor support such mediocre work. good day to you and your ‘ideas’.
one hour later:
me: *giggles with absolute delight* i need to write about polka dot elephants and birds on a bicycle and pigeons gossiping about humans more!! yayayaya!
Sam:*straight from KillTheBuzzVille* there she goes again. not being a writer. Hmph.
the above drawing is a work by Marc Johns who i stumbled upon today. if you want to see drawings that delight and have the potential to fire up your imagination, visit his website like right now. his about page says: “He’s been drawing since he was tiny. He’s not tiny anymore, but he’s not exactly big either. Marc is not sure why he’s talking about himself in the third person.” i hope you now have reason enough to check his work out.