There are many voices I hear in my head when I’m writing – the voices of my characters, and my own inner voice that’s kind of driving the project, but there’s one little dark one that always lingers, and whispers even when the others are gone. The voice tells me I’m no good. It tells me I will fail. It tells me that even as far as I’ve come, the odds are stacked against me. No one will get me. No one, or not enough of them, will like my stories and want to read them, and I will sink back under like so many before me. It doesn’t speak loudly, but every so often it whispers these things in my ear, and because they reflect my deepest fears, I hear them.
This isn’t an attempt to get attention, or validation, or praise – it wouldn’t work anyway. I write because I love to write – I did it before I ever got published and would even if I were trapped on an uncharted island (assuming the island had a steady supply of writing implements and paper) – but along with that comes the desire to be heard and understood. The voice is just something that comes with the territory, I think, and it’s always been there. I think many writers will know what I mean when I describe it. Some days it waits until I’m trying to drift off to sleep to start its needling. Others, it carries on even while I write, but I keep writing, and ignore it as best I can. I will do the best – the very best – that I can do no matter what it says. I will succeed, and then I will tell the voice to go get stuffed.
That’s the key, I think. Maybe artists are more prone to it but we are all plagued by doubt from time to time. Sometimes, in the wee hours, that voice is the only one around – but never let it make you put the pen down. If it does then it still won’t go away. It will just settle back down into the fog, and smugly whisper ‘see?’.
So I keep writing, and editing, and working – and will even if (as I suspect) it never goes away.