I sat at my computer, staring at the screen, heart palpitating with my pinkie resting firmly on the delete button. My eyeballs danced frantically over each sentence again and again as I dissected every word.
Ugh, why did I say it that way? I thought.
Why did I use so many parentheses?
All the other pieces are so much better than mine.
They are the real writers, what if I embarrass them?
I should have concluded it in a different way.
The onslaught of insults I hurled at myself lasted for over an hour.
In fact, I just reread my very first KINDRED post and found myself STILL thinking nearly THREE years later that I wish I had ended it with …. “I will always consider a day-old cupcake to be a totally reasonable breakfast…after all, it’s basically a muffin.”
I kept refreshing the screen waiting to see if anyone had viewed my piece. One view, two views, twelve views, fifty views. My anxiety soared as I thought of the fifty people who were now thinking about my cellulite. Just as I was about to hit ‘delete’ I heard my phone buzz and saw my fellow Kindred’s name, ‘Joey,’ light up on the screen.
“How are you feeling about the issue?” she asked.
Her voice felt like a warm hug. I immediately launched into a panicky, self-doubting spiral and apologized for letting the group, one that I hold in the highest of esteem, down. Calmly and kindly, like only a seasoned artist, friend, and mom could, she talked my hostage pinkie off of the rectangular button. She told me to close the screen, sit on my hands, and let it breathe. I listened to her and will forever be grateful for that conversation.
Now, when I’m feeling doubtful, I often find myself turning to Ira Glass’ sentiments about the creative process. I will link to the entire quote below in my bio, but the gist of it is that you have to produce a high volume of work to close the gap between what you want your output to be and what your output is. A lot of people quit at the phase where they don’t like their product, but Glass encourages us to fight through the aversion and be assured that the fact that you don’t necessarily love the end result shows that you have taste, which is half the battle. The other half is being willing to produce a high volume of work in spite of it.
The more I give myself the space to write, I will say, the words tend to flow more freely, or maybe I just feel the weight of their burden a little less. This KINDRED platform keeps me accountable to producing something on a regular basis, which, in some ways, helps disperse the pressure like a load-bearing wall. If, regardless of my best efforts, I miss the mark on any given issue, I know I will have the opportunity to try again. Inspiration and motivation ebb and flow, but even in the midst of an ebb we don’t sit completely idle.
In seasons of abundance and periods of drought, we must dance, draw, write, sing, paint, sew, act, photograph, or invent even if it’s just one move, line, sentence, note, stroke, stitch, riff, picture, or idea a day. These creative endeavors are the outlets that connect us all and help us break free from the mundane. They are the path that can lead to a shift in perspective both to the producer and the observer.
I, of course, still have moments of insecurity with every piece I write, and if I am being totally honest, it still isn’t until I get the first virtual like or kind comment that I breathe a sigh of relief that at least one person in the world doesn’t think that it sucks. Peer validation is important, even if we should continue the work in its absence.
Just please don’t reject yourself before you begin. If you can’t fight through the apprehension and the nitpick, your work will be whittled down before it even has a chance to do what it is meant to do.
Fall short and create anyway.
Bake cupcakes that turn into muffins, even if it’s not on the first try.