Most Ordinary by Patti Digh
Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are our most potent at our most ordinary. And yet most of us discount our “ordinary” because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons with others (I’m not as good a writer as _____), false expectations of ourselves (I should be on the NYTimes best seller list or not write at all), and false investments in a story (it’s all been written before, I shouldn’t bother). What are your false comparisons? What are your false expectations? What are your false investments in a story? List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary.
(Author: Patti Digh)
Questions that plague me – a hovering black cloud of doubt:
– If I can’t write like L.M. Montgomery, Orwell, Rand, Conrad or Tolstoy then what is the point…
When I read something as beautifully written as “The Lotus Eaters” by Tatjana Soli – as I’m reading right now – I study her phrasing, her thought process and think how on earth could I write something as wonderful as this? Not the subject matter – not the style – but rather I find myself thinking how plain, dull and incredibly pointless my own writing is. This is where I start to stumble. I revel in the words of others but then I think of my own shortcomings and wish if only my words could be as amazing. I doubt that I have the chops to actually do this. Can I write? Or am I just fooling myself?
– What do I have to offer and who would read what I write? If I can’t knock it out of the ballpark on the first try, why bother?
Oh yes, the perfection bug lives quite extravagantly off me. I cannot write/type without fixing errors as I go. I blame it on my journalism/producer background. You had to correct on the fly. It’s a hard, hard habit to break.
-Do I have an original thought?
I believe that everything I write is pure rubbish so I end up scrapping it after 70 pages because the doubt creeps in and I question where I’m going. Start, trash, restart, trash, restart, trash….
I know – deep down – what the answer is. It’s just believing it and ignoring that little doubt demon I allow to take up residence on my shoulder.