As a writer, occasionally I have to step back from my work and figure out what, exactly, I’m trying to say to the world. Am I just spewing the right sounding words onto the page, or am I weaving together something that could possibly change the way someone percieves the world?
I look at the work of the people I hold in high esteem, that handful of fellow writers who I feel have it down right. They know what message they are spreading and they do it in such a way which typically leaves me in tears. How can I ever hope to reach the depth of soul I read between their words on the page? I feel like a pond with the bottom painted black–so shallow you’d break an ankle if you jumped in, but from a distance seeming to be bottomless.
It is hard not to despair, to not yank at my hair in frustration. After all these years of fighting my way uphill to get to a place where I can write without worry–without someone dragging me away from my work because they see it as a challenge to them instead of the outlet I need to keep myself going–I still feel like a fraud. A chimp flinging shit at a wall and seeing what sticks, and those who happen by think it is art. But the few who find the beauty in my work make me question myself. At the end of the time my books steal from their lives, what have these people learned?
I read a novel from Laurel K. Hamilton and learn that it is okay to be strong, yet rely on the loves in your life–taking help doesn’t diminish your self worth, it helps build the person you were meant to be. Larissa Ione teaches me that even the strongest, most hardass people ever to draw breath need to feel love, not just from their family, but from someone who can see beyond the fierce mask to the lonely soul underneath. Sherrilyn Kenyon has taught me the most of all–to stand up for yourself because you alone have the power to allow someone’s hate to affect you, to stop being so afraid of past hurts that it prevents you from living the life you were meant to live, to learning to love yourself because you are worth more than all the gold in the world and if you just hold on a little longer someone will come along and love you with the same intensity.
And all I feel I’ve taught anyone is that vampires can have wicked hot threesomes.
This self doubt is not a comfortable feeling. It is a demon which has gnawed at my subconscious for weeks, holding me back from working on a book I’d hoped to have halfway finished by now. I should have seen the problem earlier, but it took me delving into the works of others to finally see the problem. I don’t feel smart enough to teach anyone anything. My life experiences aren’t that vast. Or so I tell myself. My close friends would argue otherwise. They could be right, but I’m so buried under this self-hate that I can’t see my life objectively. I’m not being fair to myself. I’m twenty-eight with lots of life to live. But the future experiences I could have won’t help me find my message to the world right now.
Is it egotistical of me to want to make an impact with my art? Probably. But the most brilliant artists do just that, often without realizing it. Gods help me, I want to sit back and let my muse run rampant in the hopes that I create something with more meaning than a novel people complain is lacking something. I don’t want to be found lacking in anything. I want to better the world.
And that’s the artist’s lament. We want to improve the world from the comfort of our homes and a few strokes of brilliance. Words carve a new world, not the weapons soldiers carry.