Apr 9, 2012

Demons of Doubt

My office door is open and the 21.5" blank canvas sits in front of me. The vertical cursor, 5 mm in length and at the top left side of the screen, counts the passing seconds. One, two, three, four... My fingers rest on the smooth keyboard. Another day and an opportunity to get this story out of my mind and onto the screen. One step closer to sharing it with the world. I just need to take it one page at a time and oh, what if it isn't good enough? What if it doesn't make sense? Who am I to even think I can write a novel, at least one worth reading?

They sneak up when I least expect it. No one else hears because they are mine. Everyone has their own. Some of them whisper in raspy voices, others shout and taunt. "Who do you think you are?" They lower our confidence, challenge our abilities, and if we listen for too long, we can end up believing them. The demons of doubt fight for victory in our minds. "It's just too hard," they say. "Give up now. You don't have the talent. You're fooling yourself if you even think..."

No bigger than trolls, four of them stand before me. They wear black t-shirts, their names printed in large white letters across their chests: You Fail, Why Try, Give Up, and Idiot Fool. They jump into my lap and we take a spin in my office chair. Twice. They fight their way to the desk, sending notebooks flying, pushing against each other as their dirty fingers tear up the keyboard. Before long, the screen is filled with jumbled words, phrases and a go-nowhere story that's as good as trash. Satisfied, they turn to face me, breathing heavy with wide, open-mouthed grins, their squinty eyes blinking. One, two, three, four...

I stare at the flashing cursor and close my eyes. Part of this creating means learning to live with and silencing the demons of doubt. They are my own fears. My own critics. Some days are so difficult! But, this story will be told. Do I have the talent to write it? Maybe or maybe not. I definitely don't have the education other novelists have. Maybe I'll make embarrassing mistakes along the way, but those will be mine to make and to learn from. I have the perseverance to tell the story and will tell it in any way I can. It definitely won't be easy, but it is always worth the fight.

I get up and walk out of the room, the demons following close behind. As soon as they clear the doorway, I spin around and jump back into my office and slam the door. Their cries are immediate, desperate, and they scratch and pound the door, cursing me for keeping them away. Without me, they die. Without them, I live. My story continues.

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