Failure has always been my worst enemy. Coming last was never an option to me. Winning was what I did and being good at things was what I was good at. Making my parents proud of me was the aim in everything I did. I wanted people to like me. I was instilled with a sense of justice and this caused my first ever feelings of self-doubt.
I remember it clearly – an assault on my being and my integrity and all that I stood for. I was about nine years old and there was a girl who always bullied the younger kids in our transport, but for some reason never me. When I did finally stand up to her, saying picking on others wasn’t cool, she told me to mind my own business. I was shocked. I told my parents, who called our driver to alert him to the bullying that was occurring. He refused to believe them, or me. I can still clearly remember feeling so hurt and so angry that the girl’s word was believed over mine. It was a lesson I learnt early on – in times of conflict, in times of self-doubt and perceived failure, it is best not to protest and argue. I have had to learn how to believe in myself against all the odds.
It is this same self-belief that I am struggling to resurrect now, as a writer. And if I could do it then, I sure as hell can do it now.
I spend hours writing blog posts that never leave my drafts folder. Not because the topic is too personal or too honest but because I feel that it’s badly written. Things always start off well; I have a point and write furiously, and then…. pffft. Suddenly I can’t deny it, I feel like a failure. Where’s the passion, the fire, the quick wit and hard-hitting metaphors?
I could do with silencing the critics in my head, and instead concentrate on my inner voice. Yet fear creeps in. I’m not good enough; I will break into a million pieces if I post.
Many writers, though, have two fears in common: 1. That not only will their work, their stories, be cruelly rejected but that, as a result, they will be rejected as well. 2. And that because of a story’s failure, they will amount to less.
As award-winning author and guest lecturer, Karen Jayes was drawing a recent lecture to a close; she said something which captured this journey I’m on as a writer: “This life is long, but also short”. I interpreted it to mean that in life we should take pauses and reflect, but we shouldn’t stop working on our purpose just because of fear or setbacks.
So this writer warrior is picking up her pen sword and preparing to slay the fear dragon.