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Our Greatest Foes, and Whom we must Chiefly Combat, are within

This quote is from Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It is all about insecurity.  And Cervantes was an expert at that. Cervantes lived in the 16th century and spent time as a valet, a soldier, purveyor, and tax collector, never truly feeling like he was good enough. He even spent time as a jail inmate; which I am sure didn’t help his ego. He had lots of self-doubt and bathed in the warmth of insecurity. When he was in his 50s (which was REALLY old for the 16th century) the self-doubts that were choking the life out of him were brought alive with pen and paper. And oh by the way, it became the basis for the first modern European novel and considered one of the best works of fiction ever written. Maybe you have heard of it – Don Quixote. Hmmm, in his 50s — maybe there is still hope for me (opps showing my insecurity).

“What, are you finally recognizing that you have the insecurity of a hen in a house full of foxes?” Her voice ever so sweet and sarcastic at the same time. Just how does she do that?

I guess there was no way out of having to explain this. “No, I joined a website called Insecure Writer’s Support Group.”

“That’s apropos.”

She knows every button to push. “Listen, do you want to hear why I joined it or not?”

She plopped into her chair, one leg over the arm again. I don’t know how many times I have told her this isn’t very lady like. I won’t tell you her response. “I guess I might as well since I am already here.”

I don’t remember calling her, but she normally shows up when I am least expecting anyways. “So okay, there is this website–”

“You said that already.” Every BUTTON.

“The site is where hundreds of Writers connect and provide support to each other and are also free to voice their insecurities — because every writer, just like Cervantes and long before him, have insecurities about their writing. They may have other insecurities, but it seems to be particularly pronounced in the area of writing.”

“So a bunch of neurotic nervous-Nillys lie to each other about how great they are and then dump that crap on the rest of us?” Her lips twist and her eyebrows narrow. “Sounds a little narcissistic to me.”

“It is Not!” I guess screaming is a bit childish, but she started it. A bit calmer, “It is not narcissistic. The idea, as described on the website, is “To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!”

“Like I said narcissistic.”

Grrrr “Okay, let me put it a little differently. How many times have you told me that I don’t need to have the First Draft perfect. That the goal is just get through it and then fix it in Revision?”

She looked up at that one. “More times than I can count. You are always questioning if it is good enough or if you are going to get through and realize you wasted a year of your life. You have been told by dozens of other Writers that the First Draft is supposed to be CRAP. That is why there is Revision. In First Draft I am supposed to let myself go and just come up with stuff for you to write. Well most of the time. You are still somewhat anal at times.” She sat up straight and leaned forward, her elbows on her knees. Her voice is really intense and all humor has bailed. “You just can’t seem to realize that you have at least some inkling of talent. You have even had another Writer read some of the First Draft and her comments back to you are glowing. You are retiring from your business early to do this full time. It is in your blood and you know you would just waste away if you didn’t write. You have put it off for 40 years and now, when you finally now know the process and have the support and knowledge to fall back upon through Holly’s Forums you get all hung up with all these insecuriti–”

“I believe insecurities was the word you were going to use.”

She pouted; which might have been cute on someone else, but on her it had more of a threatening look. I just smiled, slightly. Pushing it any further would end up in far worse repercussions at a late date.

She fell back against the chair back and slid down in it. “That still doesn’t explain why you joined a website where you are supposed to expose all this to hundreds of other Writers. ”

“One of the things that has kept me from writing for the last 40 years, or at least finishing anything, is that I have never felt that I was good enough. I have had this dream since I was a teenager and never really tried to fulfill it. Yes I started six novels, but I always gave up. I didn’t know stuff like never go back and start rewriting until you have finished the First Draft and other things that Holly’s course has taught me. But even if I had known the proper process and the tricks of the trade I still don’t think I would have finished those novels because I didn’t believe I could finish them.” I truly wanted her to understand what it had been like wishing and dreaming of something for four decades and feeling like there wasn’t any hope of ever achieving those dreams.  “There was this guy, Norman Cousins, an journalist and author who once said ‘People are never more insecure than when they become obsessed with their fears at the expense of their dreams.’ This is how I felt.”

I could see she was listening. I was going to have write this on the calendar. “By sharing my fears with others, and I mean people who understand what I am going through, specifically professional Writers (or Writers in training),  it helps me to deal with my own insecure thoughts. Hearing from them as to what they have gone through or are going through at the moment makes me realize that I am not alone. That is why feedback on both my writing and my fears from other Writers, who are dealing with the same feelings,  helps me to quell my own insecurities and self-doubts. ”

I could see she was about at attentions end so I thought best to wrap up. “One of the things that this Support Group does is that each person writes something about their insecurities on the first Wednesday of every month, or in the case of this month on Tuesday since Wednesday is the Fourth. Then you go around and read ten other Writers blogs and comment on their blog providing encouragement and the like. So I guess that is what this Post is all about.”

“humpf” she just snorts and stands up. “Okay. Whatever.” She heads to the door as Grover runs in past her and lands his giant paws on my lap. Hasn’t Willow ever heard of training!

As she is leaving I yell, “Hey!” and point to the humongous dog trying the impossible task of climbing into my lap. I mean this dog wouldn’t even be a whole body dog.

She whistles once and Grover drops down, gives me one last I wish I could spend more time but got to run look and then runs out. As she turns to leaves she throws one last shot, “Just try to get your act together. We have another 70,000 words to get this first book out of the way, then months of Revision. And there are still three more books we need to write for this series.”

I stare at her retreating back, auburn hair lively bouncing like her spirit. Then I turn back to the computer and ponder on what she said and think of all the years of hard work ahead, and I wonder how I could ever feel insecure.

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