The one, minor downside of having a large number of staggeringly amazing friends and acquaintances is that, more often than I care to admit, I feel bad about myself for not managing to be more like them. I don’t have a book deal yet. I haven’t sold any short stories. I can’t dance or draw or do science, or speak a second language, or travel the world with grace and aplomb. (I have traveled to other countries, but I am pretty sure that “grace and aplomb” does not involve dissolving into a puddle of tears in a London supermarket because I didn’t recognize the brand names of their cold medicines. True story. I guess it didn’t help that I had a cold.)
There’s a nasty voice in the back of my head that tells me I could do at least some of these things if I weren’t totally inadequate, and if I’m totally inadequate then I’m probably also boring, and therefore I cannot possibly have any interesting stories to tell, so why am I writing? Sometimes I listen, at least until my brain comes to the “stop writing” part. (Even when I’m at my most neurotic, that just sounds wrong.) Other times, I say, “Enough.”
You can only be who you are.
I tell myself this a lot. It’s a tautology, but as the late great Douglas Adams said about another tautology, it has power at both ends. It reminds me that the nasty voice in the back of my head is fighting the wrong battle. The goal is not to be the best person ever (whatever that means). That’s pointless and self-defeating. The goal is to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be: gracious rather than judgmental, confident rather than anxious, moving forward rather than letting waiting for things paralyze me.
Right now, in addition to writing The Girl of Illusions (just blew past the 20,000-word mark on the first draft, what’s up), I’m reading up on the history of depression, to learn how people saw it in other times and places. I’d like to write a short story to submit to this historical SF anthology, and the first step will be getting the history right.
I am a writer. If I keep moving forward, and never stop learning and paying attention, I will always have something to say.
If you’re reading this post and you ever feel like this (totally inadequate etc.), I hope you know that you are extraordinary, and more than capable of going after all the things that you really want. And–this is harder to admit–so am I.
You can only be who you are. It is so much more than enough.
(title quote: “Look Up,” Stars)