We are all aware of the green monster of envy that rises up and takes hold of us sometimes when we least expect it. Perhaps it is in the face of someone else’s success or merely at the thought of our own lack of it that triggers its rise, but when the green monster appears, it is so massive a beast, with its roars loud enough for everyone to hear, no one can mistake its presence. It is an easy creature to slay. But there is another monster which lurks in the darkness. It is gray like the mist, and it seeps into your bones like the first autumn chill. It is subtle in its attack, but once it wraps its tendrils around you, it is an all consuming master.
I speak of self-doubt, and it is singularly the greatest specter we as writers face. In fact, anyone who has a dream within their heart faces this monster, and it is the hardest creature to fight because its form is so shapeless, so amoebic, so ever changing. Banish one aspect of it in yourself and another tendril will take shape behind you to wrap itself around your heart before you have time to sense its presence.
I know this is not a common topic for a writer to address. We generally speak of the nuts and bolts of our craft, but the elephant sized specter that lurks within the corner of everyone’s heart is generally what prevents so many of us from moving forward – from pursuing with a fervor – the dream which burns within us. We look at the work we have begun and the gray monster begins its task of tearing down our belief in ourselves. We lose our way in the mist because we believe the whispers in our head rather than pushing forward. Sometimes the mist has help in the form of others around us who don’t believe in our dreams, but sometimes the gray mist doesn’t need the help.
Perhaps we get to the end of the story, tamping down the doubts that rose up throughout the process, but then it is time to take the leap of faith and send out our work. To present it to the world and the mist rises once more. This time the mist has help in the form of our fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear of success, and then what?
Perhaps we ignore the mist, and we push on. We send out our story, or we self publish (whichever road we feel led to take), and things don’t go the way our dreams played out in our head. We get rejection letters a few times, or the sales aren’t that great. Again the mist rises, and eventually we surrender to the voice that says it was all for naught.
The reality is, the mist will never leave. It will always be with us. It is a part of the human condition unless you are perhaps a narcissist, and even they perhaps have their moments. The point is, we all question and wonder whether we are good enough. Whether we are making the right choice. Whether we will ever make it in the dreams we have chosen. Is there a crystal ball out there to grant us the answer? No, but I can tell you this. Your dream, whatever it is, will most certainly fail the moment you lay it down and walk away from it. It will not happen on its own.
I know there are stories of the “magic happenings” for others where everything fell into place like magic. The truth is, it’s not how it works for most people. Even Cinderella had to scrub the toilets and the floors for a while AFTER she found her prince, and that is in the fairytales where all good things happen.
The one thing I can say is never give up. Keep moving forward. You may still find yourself in the mist, but the mist does clear when you keep moving toward your dreams. The journey may be a long one, but it is worth travelling, because one day, you will make it to your destination, and then the mist of self doubt won’t have power over you anymore.