"I've been hearing voices..."

I am feeling most unsettled. I’ve been thinking too much about what I should be doing, rather than actually doing it ( -it’s the story of my life, really) and I have been out and out aggressive and unpleasant while trying very hard to suppress my inner critic.[Apologies to all that have encountered it: the urbanely cynical, mild me will return shortly. I hope.]

Unfortunately, I am possessed of a very loud, very vocal, inner critic, whose life’s work thus far has been to cause me to hesitate, to delay and to procrastinate. The positive side of this unquiet voice is that I question myself a lot: why am I doing this? -why do I think this? –what does this mean to me? –how did I come to this? The negative side is that I question myself a lot… (You can see the elliptical orbit that particular ellipsis suggests, can’t you?)

Anyhow, bludgeoning my inner critic into brief submission (the violence was alas entirely necessary: and me a lapsed pacifist, too. Tsk tsk.…) I did something recently that I haven’t done in a long while: I wrote a short story. I’m not entirely happy with it – both the inner and the conscious critic are stroking their chins and preparing a considered response- but I am happy with the fact that I managed to focus, concentrate and concertedly imagine for the first time in years.

A lot of “proper” writers talk about “finding a voice” for a character -something of which I used to be a little wary, seeing as it made writing sound like a mystical, mythical activity that relied on some external force acting on a writer rather than something which could be generated from inside one’s own mind: as someone who rarely finds what they are looking for, even on a practical level (I lost a book of poetry somewhere a few months ago, I couldn’t find it anywhere and it is still annoying the bejasus out of me…) it sounded too much like chance - now I think I am beginning to understand a little better what they mean. Curiously, I’ve been able to stifle my inner critic sufficiently to write occasional poems, but for them the persona doesn’t need to be sustained or as coherent for quite as long as in a short story and therefore for me it’s easier, in some ways, to write poetry, but that’s by the by…

My inner critic has been drowning out those “voices” for far too long -the phrasings, imaginings and personae that can be used to convey a range of feeling and thoughts – or rather, I’ve been telling myself “I can’t…” before I’ve even tried and I have been furious at myself for having so much crippling self doubt: in part this has been vented in my interactions with others ( or in other words, I’ve been a grumpy cow) or merely suppressed into a tight ball of angst. Now I’ve started writing again, I’m eager to experiment, to see how many other voices I can use to tell a story, how many other characters I can give life to. It could be many, it could be none: it could be that the inner critic was right all along and I really shouldn’t write, but sod it – I’m going to do it anyway.

Of course, stifling the bloody inner critic thus far has only applied to writing one short, short story: it’ll be another stand-up, bare-knuckle fight, I fear, to shut it up over snipes at my career, my ambitions, my choice of politics, shoes, friends, bread rolls… – or in other words everything else. Oh well. No-one ever said it should be easy, did they?


Anonymous said...

Gripes , that all sounds very familiar. Transferring ideas from your head to the paper without listening to the criticism is sooooooo hard. Are you doing the nanowrimo thing this year? I’m hoping that because its such a tight schedule I’ll be too busy writing to actually think too much about what I’m writing. It’s the over analysis that cripples me.

Morris said...

I don't have my glasses on so I couldn't see your post. My guess is if you talk it over with her it should be all right!

Mr. Morris
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The Gripes of Wrath said...

You know, that is possibly the strangest comment spam I've read yet.
*shakes head* Very strange...(even worse, for many of my posts, it would look like pertinent advice.)

What Would Dana Do said...

I used to work with a woman who wanted to be a writer, who spent all her time thinking about writing and obsessing as to whether she was any good. She was pretentious, precious and utterly boring.. the rest of us used to tell her to not think about it so much and just write what was within her and as long as it was true it had worth.

Anyway I thought it was sound advice but she ignored us... and then promptly went off and won the Whitbread Prize for her first novel..

And the moral of that is.. *shrug*

Anyway, congrats on the story and personally I think you write very well.. much better than my ex colleague does..

Now.. do the Supernanny thing again ;)

Morris said...

Hello again,

Thanks for commenting on my blog, I still haven't found my glasses yet, but I will keep looking. In the meantime if you record audio versions of your posts I may visit you again.

Mr. Morris
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