I Waited To Be Worthier
“I never began! I waited and waited to be worthier to begin, and wasted my life in preparation. While I fancied my creation was growing it was dying.”Madonna of the Future – Henry James
In James’ story, we meet Theobald, an aspiring artist who’s ‘working’ on his version of the Madonna. The truth is he’s yet to put brush to canvas and has spent two decades preparing and dreaming of his painting.
What word would you replace with ‘worthier’? Some words I would replace it with are: smarter, confident, ready, or inspired. I felt my writing journey couldn’t start until I had taken all the classes, read all the books, and attended all the seminars.
Fear and Perfectionism are cruel masters. They seek to kill (or at the very least stunt) your creativity. Fear says your voice doesn’t matter. Perfectionism says your story has been told before. Fear questions if you’ll ever be published. Perfectionism ridicules your meager social media following.
But each time you allow these thoughts to take over, your creation takes another step towards death.
Perfectionism is the number one enemy of all creative efforts.
The secret is to begin. It takes courage to sit down, put pen to paper, and start. But when you do, your stories open up, characters become real, and it leads to more stories. In the middle of a short story, you’ll have inspiration for a poem. A minor character shows up in your novel and begs to have their story told. Odd news articles will inspire stories. Family legends are embellished and retold.
While Fear and Perfectionism are cruel masters, Inspiration is an intolerant companion. She doesn’t tolerate being ignored. She detests hearing you’ll only show up if she does. Inspiration expects you to show up and be ready to run with whatever thought she shares that day.
Beginning takes courage, and continuing takes hard work. Unlike Theobald, we show up at the page and welcome inspiration to sit alongside us. We toil to tell the initial story, to edit, revise and rewrite. Striving to include nuance, create engaging themes, and pick a perfect name for the main character.
If you need some help and inspiration in the continuing, I would recommend any of these books:
- The Lie That Tells a Truth – John Dufresne
- Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
- The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
- Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg
- The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
- On Writing – Stephen King
Featured Photo by Dayne Topkin via Unsplash