Several weeks ago, I sent an e-letter that talked about not giving up. Ralph Dopping happened to read it, and he replied to it with a question: “How do you battle self-doubt?” I thought and thought about the question, then I sent a reply to Ralph. I also asked him if a follow-up blog post might be warranted. He didn’t seem to mind either way, so, here I am, writing a blog post about how to battle self-doubt.
Richard Hugo says to write with the tool that brings the writer the most sensual satisfaction. For Hugo, it was a number 2 pencil. He felt good putting the words on paper when he used one or two or more. Hugo liked to be prepared. He would sharpen about twenty pencils before settling into the act of writing. When one pencil dulled, he grabbed another.
The blank page often is thought of as a curse. Writers bemoan it. They even wail about it. They fret and stew about the blank page. They worry about putting words on the page. They worry about not putting words on the page. They fear the blank page will haunt them for the rest of their lives. They wonder when the blank page will stop being such a bully and let them write. They wonder if they can stage a coup. They fear the blank page already knows their plans to rebel, so they hide. They avoid the blank page. They make a pot of coffee. They wash the dishes or fold the laundry. They pretend they can’t see the blank page from the corner of their eye, but they know it’s there, glowering, waiting.
I wanted to publish these words yesterday, but they were difficult in coming. They remain difficult now. I’m not sure what point they serve, if any, except as a reminder that silence sometimes is the appropriate response.
I find myself without words when it comes to the Boston Marathon. I truly don’t know what to say. Any time I try to write something, the writing feels forced, fake. I refuse those words. I have seen them published in the past about other tragedies, and they will be written again. I want no part of that. The words have to mean something.
I am a morning person; thus, I love mornings. I specifically love early mornings. The time between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. is precious. Those hours are not yet filled with the yammering of my brain and all its thoughts of what I need to do haven’t been doing. My mind is quiet. It’s ready to work. It’s ready to write.