Demons. We all have them. Here are some of mine:
Pride in Efficiency
This may sound strange but I have to remind myself to be bad at what I don’t want to do (i.e. laundry, other people’s work.)
The Myth of Natural Talent
Writing does not come naturally to me. It takes intense effort. If I channelled the same effort into any other field, I might be an epidemiologist or a rocket scientist by now.
Moments of Disenchantment
It’s inevitable for me to experience a kind of bottoming-out as I work on a book. I’m not talking about the big crises of confidence, which may lead a person to ask: Who am I? Why write? Does God exist? I’m referring to the other kind, the smaller crises I have all the time, those moments of negative epiphany when I start putting the story I’ve been carrying around in my head (the scenes that seemed so profound and beautiful) onto the page and I feel heartbroken because it’s so unbelievably terrible.
An acquaintance of mine who wrote a book on screenplay writing calls this “waking up outside the castle.” For me, moments of disenchantment happen several times throughout the course of a project. (My sense of connection to the story may be temporarily lost, my former passion and enthusiasm wanes, the drawbridge lifts…) The hardest thing is to keep going when all what I want to do is press delete and look through the want ads. (If the feeling persists, sometimes I do press delete, but that’s another issue.)
A final demon: Equilibrium
Happiness, disappointment, triumph, defeat, I cannot count the number of times I’ve experienced the whole gamut in a day. The challenge is to embrace disequilibrium, remembering that all of it—the whole tempestuous writing life, with all its fickle crests and troughs—is something chosen and ultimately loved.
(Image: “German Husband and Wife Team Perform a Dramatic Tightrope Cycling Act” by Achille Beltrame.)