Knocking the “t” off “can’t.”

Posted: May 2, 2009 in Writing
Tags: , , ,
If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
Vincent Van Gogh

‘Oceans of confidence’ was how a teacher once described me; a fond remembrance now that the description no longer holds water.

I used to blame the dropping sea levels on motherhood. I gave birth and everything became my fault. The scrawnyness of my first-born, the tantrums of my second, the opprobrium at preschool when our five-year-old brought to Show and Tell his drawing of Mount Doom and ten thousand attacking Orcs…

Getting stuck at traffic lights on our way to netball? My fault. The Balkans? Obviously my fault.

I began to write fiction as a way of fighting back, of reclaiming the sense of self that had been misplaced in a clutter of lost goggles, crappy nappies and broken hockey sticks.

If I could do one thing well, a scene, a chapter, a sparkling bit of dialogue, then the tide would turn, rushing in to fill that dry ocean bed with enough confidence to keep me going.

Each success produced a new high water mark, and finally, a king tide, bearing with it a publishing contract. Yet, each morning I still wake to desolate stretches of sand.

I live in a littoral zone of confidence, a rich and varying landscape of flooding hopes and ebbing fears. I pick my way through the flotsam and jetsam, using what I can and hoarding what I cannot, in the hope that one day it might turn out to be the button I need to press, the key I need to turn…

The hot sands have taught me there is only one way to call in the tides and fill the void.

It is simply this…

To write.

There is a tide in the affairs of women, which, taken at the flood, leads God knows where.’ Lord Byron
  1. A beautiful piece, evoking rich images. Inspirational!

  2. If writing well is the road to rediscovering your confidence, Chris, then you should be brimming with it. This post just sings, as does everything you write.

    Self-doubt can be so disabling. I’m glad to hear you seem to be winning the battle this day. Keep writing!

  3. thewordygecko says:

    Thanks very much for this post, Chris. Self-doubt is a huge problem for a lot of writers. Mine came to a head this year, and forced me to seek professional help (lots of family stuff, don’t ask! Actually, just see my blog!!). So far, the psychologist is helping a lot, but I can see that my ‘stuckness’ will take hard work and more time to overcome completely.

  4. chrisbongers says:

    When I feel my confidence quail, I try harder, and like Hemingway, try to write one true sentence. Then I follow where it leads me.

    Thanks for your comments πŸ™‚

  5. Yes. Just write.

    Love it.

  6. Joanne Schoenwald says:

    Oh how I hear you! How do we define success? Where are we when we ‘make it’? The bar keeps moving all the time. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  7. Heather Munro says:

    I may be behind the times (usually about 2 weeks actually) but your blog just describes that well known state of being that many of us suffer – not only writers. Thanks Chris – I hope the tide stays in.

  8. chrisbongers says:

    Me too, Heather. Me too. C x

  9. Love your positive attitude, Chris – it’ll keep you going through the down turns, for sure! πŸ™‚

  10. Elle says:

    Such lovely images, Chris… and I so agree! There’s just something about playing with words that lifts you up and makes you feel like everything’s going to be okay…

  11. chrisbongers says:

    That’s true, Elle. Writing can make many of us as happy and absorbed as a child threading beads …

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