Happily (n)ever after…

I want to write a book. I have always wanted this. Since I was a little girl, aside from wanting to be a baker at age 4, I have always wanted to write, and to design and make clothes. And yet here I am, never fully realising any of those desires. Plus, I’m now a coeliac on a keto diet so baking really isn’t on my radar either!

I studied fashion, and hit roadblocks I wasn’t capable of overcoming at the time. I went back to full-time admin work. More roadblocks appeared along the way each time I tried to pursue the avenues that lit a spark in my mind. Each time I returned to the save path, and each time I could only hold on for a few years before my heart cried out for more.

I’m pretty good at making excuses, and taking the safe path. I am so focussed on staying safe, staying alive, making sure I’ve ticked all the boxes an adult is meant to tick that once I get to the end of the list there is little time/money/energy left over for the me who sits on the bench waiting for serious me to be kind enough to allow some happiness. It sound absurd, but I know I am not the only one. I’m forever just making do, and I’m kind of over it.

What’s this got to do with wanting to write a book? Well, the thing is, despite all my good ideas and desires, I’m not good at endings and I am easily influenced by what other people have done. I’ve been carrying an idea around for a very long time (at least 10 years, possibly longer), and frequently come up with new ideas. I tell myself I’m not smart enough to write that book, I’m too young to write about such a heavy topic, and most infuriatingly I have this absurd belief that I can’t possibly write a reflective book without having a successful ending. What I mean is, at the end of all those self discovery books (or so my brain tells me, since I haven’t actually read many…) the author discusses their clarity and success. I don’t have any clarity or success, or so I believe. I am still very much in the middle of my story, so would it be hippocrytical of me to write my story when it is yet to be finished?

Is it actually ok to write my story as it is and let people know, you know what, we’re never going to have all the answers, but here’s how I’m coping without the answers. Is that acceptable? Would anyone actually feel fulfilled at the end of that? On one hand, I think hey, that could actually be the most important story to be told. It’d be reassuring to go wow, no one really has it all together, but as long as I am working towards understanding myself and my place in life I’m doing ok. But on the other hand I imagine all these people getting to the end being really unsatisfied and thinking, what does she know? She’s not successful. Why am I reading this trash. Ahhh, there it is. My old roadblock. Off to safety I run, because the negative voice is so much louder.

I was chatting to a close group of friends about this, laid all my fears out for them, and joked that I felt like the Shakespeare or Dickens of the “Self Help/Self Discovery” genre. The only hope I feel I can offer my readers is that life is not perfect, no one’s life is perfect, even super successful people aren’t perfect. They’ve just managed to achieve something that you haven’t. Or maybe they perceive where they’re at as a success. My good friends, my voices of reason, the women who do not dress their thoughts up to make you feel good, each said that they would read my book. They told me it’d be a refreshing point of view, and that it doesn’t matter how many pages it takes or how long it takes to read it. They reminded me that it’s about the story, and how as long as it is exactly the length it is meant to be it can be deemed a success.

I feel like success is not part of my vocabulary. I carry a lot of negative self talk, and I constantly tell myself how something is not good enough. Even my excellent always has the voice going “yeah, it’s good, but it could be better”. Sometimes after hearing that voice, and feeling it get heavier each day, I snap when external sources chime in to tell me things could be better. By that point it isn’t even about the thing anymore, it’s about the fact that someone has validated the negative, hateful monster in my mind and feeds its ego. “SEE”, its voice booms, “You’re no good! You’re a waste of space! Just fade into the background because you have no value, nothing to add, no hope at ever being anything or anyone.” I recently discovered this monster is part my first boyfriend. That was a real shock since it has been 10 years since we broke up, and a ton of therapy in between, and I thought I was doing ok. But there, in the quiet, I found that old fear and insecurity just waiting for my weak moment to emerge. The thing about this voice emerging is that part of what I want to write includes this three year chunk of my life that formed so much of my self doubt. Anyone who has been in a very negative relationship that also had some sweet moments can understand the fear of that person hearing what you feel happened and coming back like a hammer telling you that your story is a lie. Could you imagine pouring your heart out, fighting self doubt to get it out there, and after putting your all into a story someone who was there, part of that story, comes in and destroys your credibility.

I’ve failed before I’ve even begun, again.

Every day I fight these thoughts, and I know I’m not the only one.

I wish I could wrap this up in a tidy little package, but the truth is I just can’t right now. This is the truth of how I’m feeling at the moment, floating around trying to find my place and my purpose. I’m constantly wondering what’s the point, and who else is with me on this journey imagining where they want to be and having no confidence to move towards that place. So I’m here, in all my gory glory, digging deep trying to find that little “fuck it, just give it a go” switch. It’s in there somewhere.

I made a promise to myself

My intention for 2018 was to write for a minimum of one hour a week until a habit had been formed. Once it was habit I would place no limit or constraint on how much time I must spend writing, just as long as I did it and made progress. I’ve been telling myself I’ve been working on a book for so many years now, and yet truthfully I’ve barely written a thing. Last year I finally sat down and planned out chapters, and began on the one that was easiest for me to begin because of how it related to my life at the time, but the thing is I am not disciplined in my writing habit and so I have moments where I write loads, and then many weeks of famine in between. At this rate, the book will never get written.

And so, here I am, keeping my promise. Last week I wrote twice, and perhaps I will again this week. I’d begun writing another piece this afternoon, but I can’t quite get the feelings on paper…or is it screen now? Either way, I find myself stumbling over my words today. My thoughts are jumbled and I am tired. What is the point of me writing today? I guess I need to share that this is hard, especially when you’ve grown up with the romantic idea that authors just write when inspiration strikes. I’ve tried living this way, and it doesn’t work. Inspiration always calls when you are unable to write. ALWAYS. My God, the number of times I have been in the middle of my workday and a paragraph, or even a sentence, begins to loop in my mind. In those moments I consider dropping what I’m doing to pursue that little literary treat dancing upon my brain, but before long I am brought back to reality and that line is gone forever, unless I’m lucky enough to jot it down.

I find myself constantly caught between wanting to express myself intelligently, and not wanting to sound like I think I know everything. Most people would say I think way too much about this, and many would tell me to just get on with it and write. As absurd as it is, I constantly think what makes me so special to tell this story in my mind? Who wants to hear that story? You’re probably wrong anyway. Self doubt, it is so constant. And yet, so many people appear to believe in me so here I am, writing, and sharing. The truth is, I am so scared that I will pour my heart and soul into something and have it just flop, never getting anywhere beyond me and my circle. If that happened, would it be so bad? No, I guess not, but oh how I dream of being able to be creative for a living. To write, photograph, paint, and sew, and for that to earn me a comfortable living so I can do what I feel I was made to do.

Just keep going, I tell myself through gritted teeth. There are only two ways about this; I give it a go and I succeed, or I give this a go and I fail. I no longer want to give myself the option to just dream about doing. It has gotten me nowhere in life, nowhere but sadness and regret and I don’t like that place. Practice makes perfect, they say, and so with each piece I write I hope you see me getting better. I’m no longer scared of reading over what I have written and editing it, so that is progress, but at the same time I think I need to just pour it all out and worry about the editing later. So for now, when inspiration calls, I will jot down those words dancing behind my eyes and store them away for later.

I feel it is important to share our struggles and how the beginning of something can be so daunting and exhausting, but eventually we’ve got to realise that just DOING something is better than dreaming, even if it isn’t great to start with. That’s the biggest lesson I have learned over the past couple of years, and each year I am better at the doing (though I am still an honors student in dreaming!). Tonight I am tired, but hopefully I’ll be able to share something a little more captivating next time.