When I paint woodland animals or dinosaurs or trees or oceans, I have to trust that the brushstrokes will result in something akin to those four things. I can’t tell when I’m painting; I’m too close to the wall. All I see is colors blending together. It’s only when I step away from the wall and have some distance that I can see correctly. I see that I have, in fact, painted a sheep or a fox or a deer. The tree is convincing. The crashing waves actually look like crashing waves.
I’m the same way with other things, mostly my creative writing and Write Right. I’m often too close to those things. I can’t see them correctly. My inability to see them then produces a lack of confidence followed by a hesitation – I hesitate to claim the titles “writer,” “poet,” “artist,” “entrepreneur.” It’s only when I step away from my creative writing or Write Right that I can see what I have accomplished. I regain focus.
Stepping away from the work has its own dangers; if I step too far away, I can become distracted by other people’s work. I can see how well they’re doing something or with the speed at which they’re completing those things. I marvel, then feel even less sure of my own work. It’s what I call a comparison trap, and it’s a dangerous, dangerous thing. If I’m not careful, I lose any focus I did have. I become less and less certain and less and less confident.
My poetry mentor would take me to task for my lack of confidence, and I have mentors who do the same thing today. They use different phrasing; they tell me to quit with the self-deprecating humor. They see what I sometimes can’t. They see my intelligence. They see my work as it really is and not how I sometimes imagine it to be. They believe in me and my work. Now they want me to believe, too. They want me to be confident. They want me to step away from the wall and to see what actually is there.