“As I sit back and I observe I have come to understand that doubt and fear is a major contributor and enemy of the writer. It creeps into the mind, seeps into the soul and gnaws the bone. It gets down so deep inside the author that it bleeds through the pen and taints the words. Next thing you know every time you look up that writer is not a writer anymore. That writer is a shadow of his former self, wallowing in self-pity and doubt. That writer has allowed fear to creep in and to steal his gift.”
~ Yecheilyah Ysrayl
Yecheilyah Ysrayl is a blogger, author, poet, and book reviewer who lives and writes in Louisiana. These words were in a post I received this week as a subscriber to her newsletter. Apparently, these words resonated deeply with me.
A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching is a memoir I penned about my teaching career in 2006-2007 the year before I retired. In it, I explored the twin demons I faced and battled throughout most of my life – but specifically in the context of my chosen career. These demons, fear and self-doubt aren’t really the same thing, but they can deliver a potent 1-2 punch to knock a person out. Boxing metaphor aside, I experienced them as fear of failure and doubt about my abilities. Did I have the right stuff? Will I fail? The answers are in the book – no spoilers!
When this book snared an IPPY Bronze Medal award in May of 2008, I knew I wanted to take up a career in writing. At this point, I have almost finished the first draft of my debut sci-fi novel, Passion & Struggle, and knew I was hooked on this incredible writing adventure.
And then it happened – again! My twin demons showed up to trip me up as I was embarking upon this new career adventure. I had no warning – dirty pool if you ask me. The doubt fed the fear and my mind froze. Yecheilyah Ysrayl’s words expressed my experience eloquently and powerfully: “It creeps into the mind, seeps into the soul and gnaws the bone.” She is truly a poet as her words, creeps, seeps, gnaws, made me feel the horror all over again.
Her description takes it one step further, “It gets down so deep inside the author that it bleeds through the pen and taints the words.” The imagery here is very powerful – ‘bleeds’ and ‘taints’ – because the demons are forceful in their paralysing impact.
I do not believe I am the exception when I own up to the fact that these are my struggles. I have fought the good fight for over six decades, but I have failed to banish these twin evils from my mind, heart, and my soul. I fully expect they’ll still be with me until my time on this planet comes to an end.
Does that sound depressing? Here’s the welcome news. I am sure that these demons of self-doubt and fear of failure will challenge me for the rest of my life, but they will not win. I have stumbled, I have staggered, and have curled up in agony; but I have never surrendered my mind, my heart, or my soul. As long as I continue to summon the courage to do battle each day, to banish the doubt as inconsequential and unsupported, to turn my back on the fear that is groundless, I will survive and be victorious. I will write!