Wednesday, February 6, 2008


The original intention (yesterday) of this post was to write something light-hearted that I was going to call "I Crack Myself Up." So I want to start with this.

The other day, I said something funny to my 23 year old daughter. After saying it, I laughed so hard that I felt lightheaded, like I was going to faint. In the playfully disdainful way that she has, my daughter looked at me and said, "You crack yourself up, don't you, Mom?" And I realized, that yes, I do crack myself up. I love to laugh at my own jokes (why would I say them if I didn't think they were hilarious??). But this self-appreciation goes even farther. I love to look at my photographs. I love to read my own writing. I love to pick up my handmade cards and admire them. Really, it gives me a seratonin lift, I believe, to like what I create. And I like to share all of this with other people, giving my cards to people, framing photographs as gifts, having people read my writing and laugh at my jokes.

But there is a dark side to this, and here's where I took a little detour from the original intention of this post. I don't like it when something I create turns out to be less than perfect.

Last night was critique night for me in my short story class. I was paired with two incredible writers--one I knew was great and one I figured out was great after reading her story. I went first.

I have had this image in my head of how a person looks during the critique process. First the good things about the story (person smiling, turning red with pleasure, puffing up). Then the suggestions for improvement (person getting serious look on his or her face, turning red with embarrassment, deflating). After the class, on my way home and later, I began to have serious doubts about my ability to write. There was a lot of work to be done on this story, and I felt overwhelmed at the task. I even thought, "Well, I'm just going to scrap that story and do another one." But that ain't how it works in this class. The point is to write a shitty first draft (mission accomplished) and then rework it into something readable.

This morning, when I got up to do yoga and free-write, I began writing about my feelings surrounding all of this. And then, the amazing thing that has happened since I decided to learn to write: I had a revelation. I realized that I was experiencing the same thing that the character in my short story was experiencing: DOUBT. Whoa. Soooo...the timer went off to signal the end of the free-write period and I went to the next clean, blank page. At the top of the page I wrote, DOUBT-THINK ABOUT IT. And that's where I'm going to start my free-write tomorrow morning.

Now I have to go back to cracking myself up. I'm going to need all the laughs and self-admiration I can muster up to get me through this process of learning to write!

1 comment:

trisha said...

Mamie, you crack me up, too. It's one of the many things I love about you. Your humor helps me gain perspective about my writing, most recently about my critique last night.

Doubt. I know where that comes from, no other than myself. God doesn't put it in me.

Lent begins today, maybe I could let go of my stranglehold on doubt.

Thanks for being you.