Friday, July 20, 2012

Ramblings of My Harshest Critic


The song “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” from Sweet Charity keeps running through my head. Why am I so discontent?
I have such desires inside of me. Urges to create something wonderful. To write words that touch people, make them think, make them laugh or cry, help them understand something different from what they may think. 
I sit down to write and find my thoughts jumbled. The page fills with uninspired words that fall short of creating the desired affect. Thoughts are left dangling with no resolution; stories are left incomplete.
I have so many ideas germinating in my head. There are at least 5 regular blog entries (including this one) bouncing around my brain right now as well as a large, multi-character, multi-plot fictional story and a couple of other short fiction pieces. I have started each of them. Their titles stare at me from the desktop every day when I open my laptop. If they could speak they would ask me when I’m going to finish them. They might even bypass that big question and ask me when I’m going to open their pages again and just add to them. 
I ask myself those questions every day.
When I started my blog I wrote every day. That was the point. I wanted to change my dull life by doing something different and then write about that experience. Some days there were entries that were about going to different areas of the City or to new restaurants. Some days the entries were merely about what I watched on television that night with friends. The point is: I wrote. I wouldn’t go to bed until that day’s adventure, what ever it was, had been documented. 
Now I seem to only write when the mood strikes. Previously I felt a necessity to write. I felt I owed it to the 2 readers of my blog to give them something new every day (Yes, one of those 2 was my mom). I looked forward to publishing my words. 
It was even more exciting to face the challenge of writing fiction and publishing those words. Ideas that I schemed up in my brain and then mulled over and, in some cases, acted out around my room to get a better sense of the action and the feeling. It brought so much pleasure writing those scenes and descriptions. I received so much pleasure in hearing back from a reader that they liked a description or a scene. I was so excited to face the challenge of writing dialogue. I was scared to do so. I would talk through the scenes I wrote with the inflection and meaning I wanted to be behind each word or phrase. I would describe those feelings. It was such a joy. The more I did it, the easier it got. Then when the fiction was complete it was such a sense of accomplishment. 
Right now I feel like all the joy is gone. I never set out to be a writer, but it was something that once I started came easily, maybe naturally, to me. 
Maybe that’s my problem. I’ve always hated to practice. I’ve always hated to not just be good at something. I never had to try to be a singer. It was natural talent. Maybe the things that I’m trying to write about myself at the moment, and the fiction I’m trying to write isn’t coming as easy because I’m not practicing. I'm not making myself sit down at the computer and think about it. Maybe there is no flow because I’m not doing any work. Maybe I’ve allowed the challenge of writing something a little bent, like my sense of humor and point of view, to make it not fun. Maybe I’m pushing it aside instead of practicing, trying.
It begs the question: What do I want to do with my life? Do I want to write? Yes! Do I want my life to have meaning beyond what I do to make money? Yes!
I think I may be suffering from fear of success induced laziness. If I have 2 readers or 500 I want to write and publish on my blog. I know that not every entry is going to be for every reader, but when I do publish I do my best to make sure there is honesty. It’s my honesty. My truth. 
I was told once that I’m the only person standing in my way. I believe that now more than I ever have in my life. I stand in my way more than I ever thought possible. 
All I really want to do is “finish the hat” as George sings in Sunday in the Park with George. Why then am I preventing myself from doing so. 
Write, Michael. You know that you can. Finish your thoughts. Tell your stories. You are your harshest critic. There are people who support you. There are people who read what you have to say. There are people who are touched: they laugh, they cry, they smile, they get mad, they agree, they disagree. 
“Look at what you’ve done,
Then at what you want,
Not at where you are,
What you’ll be.....”
What do I want? What have I done? This moment right now of unmotivated laziness is just that: a moment. It’s this moment. In an hour I may be less lazy. Tomorrow I may be motivated beyond the speed at which I can type. 
I’m going to take a breath now and try to understand that I am human. I’m not going to disregard my feelings. I’m going to acknowledge them. They’re nothing but feelings I created in my head. Then I’m going to attempt to set them aside so that the bigger picture of my life starts to shine through again. 
Creativity is a process that can’t be rushed. I need to understand that. I also need to understand that I have to put in the time. I need to visit the incomplete pages every day, without pressure, until they are finished. I need to stop being my harshest critic and give myself a break. I need to hear the words I’m actually typing.
I need to take time to smell the roses and to realize that there are no deadlines. I’m writing for me. If others are in some way affected that is just bonus. I think I just made a huge realization. My writing is for me. I have to get back to that place when it was a joy to see the words come together to tell the story and create the journey.