There are indeed times when I distrust myself, my choices. I look around me and see only evidence of my inadequacy, indeed my own foolishness. I can find not one scrap of a hint of a partial clue that I am worth the ink in my fountain pen. And if at one point or another I felt my worth exceeded that of the bottle of black ink, indeed I was mistaken, delusional.
Believe me when I tell you, this sort of thinking was my go-to for many years. If I were looking to write a post that was even more depressing than this will seem right from the “steaming away from the dock” phase of its composition I’d get into the whole story of being trained to fail, being told you had failed when you hadn’t…all that telenovela garbage. Don’t wanna.
What I’d like to do is go back and look at the clues that a man of my current mood will insist were delusions, and play a little game called “Wut If.” I spell “what” that way because I’m dangerous. Not the sort you take home to meet mama.
What if… I wasn’t insane? (I spelled it right that time because I was so dangerous I was frightening myself.) And anyway, let me rephrase since many have told me I was. Was insane, that is. Not just some existential acknowledgment of my being. If I wasn’t seeing things, (something a lot of crazy people do, but we’ll go with it), then that means there was evidence that did not corroborate my sensation of failure.
What evidence was there? What did it show that was positive and life-affirming enough to roll over the wall of doubt and negativity I’d spent so many years perfecting. Hmm. Let’s see.
There are books. The years I spent believing that I could one day write a book…an actual starts-where-it-starts-let’s-see-where-it-goes novel, well perhaps they weren’t in vain. Even when part of me pushed my energy in other directions, directions that gave me the ability to keep the lights on, I knew what I was supposed to be… no what I was: a writer.
The first thing I had to overcome was the desire and the belief that an agent would be interested in what I had done or what I was doing at the time. I was no one from nowhere and that was basically that.
But then I found out that the good folks at CreateSpace and later KDP (Kindle direct publishing) were so happy to help me past that pothole, allowing me to upload my books which they would then publish and sell both in a print format and for the Kindle itself.
So what came first? As illustrated above it was a book of short fiction. After all that hoopla, it wasn’t even a novel! And they weren’t all new stories either! Can you freaking believe this guy?
Still, it was a book. I ordered a print copy for myself at the sweet author’s discount. [MENTALLY INSERT WINK EMOJI HERE] (Oh yeah. I get it now. Using the emoji itself is much easier.) Anyway, when the book came and I held it in my hand I got a little misty. My quest of a thousand miles was easily a few feet into the first. First mile, that is. Are you even paying attention?
After that came the Cerah of Quadar series, then the books with Craig A. Hart, then the Cleanup Crew, then Jelly Jars, and on it goes.
So I suppose that’s evidence. The first clue. But what else would I have seen?
Well, who the hell knows? Who knows what I’d have seen but wait… Wait just a cotton-picking minute, as my grandfather used to say. Might the fact that I would wonder about it at all, wonder in this way – bravely, analytically… even a little… be evidence in itself?
I think, just maybe, it is! You see the frame of mind I spent decades defaulting to has the bonus effect of deadening one’s ability to look favorably upon oneself. What happens instead is that I would hang onto a piece of a failure, even an inaccurately perceived failure, even a mentally invented failure. I would grab onto that one thing and that was all I needed. I didn’t need to investigate any further. I didn’t need to dig deeper, down into the psyche to, you know, walk around. I sucked. Period.
But someone who is not doing that, someone who hasn’t decided to cling to failure as the ultimate reward, might indeed think to look back, look at himself and the decisions he’s made and continues to make and… I dunno. Doesn’t really sound like a crazy guy.
There’s something else too. It’s new. It did not yet exist at the time the other evidence had been formed. It did not appear among the pictures, the clues. I would have had no idea… that I could become resolute. That I could speak up when needed, stay silent when needed. That I decided to give up taking shit.
It’s something that would have served me well had I stumbled upon it many years sooner. I think a lot of the situations in which I ended up finding myself, time after time, may have been avoided if in the first-ever situation, whatever that was, if I had just said, “Nope. Not taking that shit.” And then walked. Not only would the person who was dishing it know the ultimate outcome, but word would spread. “Watch it. He doesn’t take shit.” Furthermore, I would have quickly learned to spot those foul situations and not let myself get pulled into them in the first place.
But enough about the past. Enough Wut If. (Back to being dangerous, so…)
Here’s the deal. Here, also, is the skinny. Whichever you like. Okay this time, really here it is: I’m there now. I’m resolute. (Not the H.M.S. Resolute, shown above. I have much less rigging.) But listen, I’m not taking shit, and I’m going to live my life endeavoring not to be known for giving shit to others.
And what I’ve found is this: whether you start from this point or you get to it eventually, you’ll quickly see it is a keystone in the entire process of not living in a hole in your yard. If you can be resolute in your dedication to yourself then everything else at least begins to fall into place.
That’s what I’m finding.
One thought on “Times of Doubt”
Your takes in life are interesting. But sharing your talent for writing, staying at it and pushing yourself forward is something to be commended. I for one thanks you for your efforts.