Thursday, June 6, 2013

Impostors

Status Update: down to that annoying part of the bag where it looks empty, but no matter how much you shake it, another pot worth of beans falls out. The dregs, folks, the dregs are what I'm talking about. This is especially important because they're drying out and I drink my coffee blacker than a Lambda Lambda Lambda convention at midnight. Dryness ain't your friend here.

Anywho, finishing up Nightmare Town this week. Plotting is done, just have to sit myself down and write the rest of it. This is an issue, because my brain's in a weird place after writing flash fiction, short shorts and vacationing heavily over the last month. I need to tie myself to a chair, slap myself around a bit. Get my internal drill sergeant out, get mean. Or something.

It's hard, though. Writing reminds me of housework at times. You keep putting it off because there's a kid in your subconscious who tells you that all work is bad, that work can't possibly be enjoyable, then you sit down and...guess what, it's fun. Then you wrap up what you set out to do, go do something else and the cycle starts all over again. Screw you, kid.

I've made no bones about the fact that I'm prone to procrastination. The worst part is that I procrastinate with things of no lasting value. Video games, watching TV, dicking around on the internet, alphabetizing my collection of dead Boy Scouts, none of these really matter and aren't even a fraction of a fraction as fulfilling or--face it, fun--as writing is, but involve just as much, if not more, work.

I think part of it is that I'm lazy. Naturally. But there's a not insignificant part that, for lack of anything better to call it, could be labelled as "impostor syndrome". I simply have difficulty recalling at times, particularly the ass end of the day when I'm buried up to my tits in the daily hurly-burly, that I'm actually a reasonably competent writer (shut up, you in the back) and enjoy what I do. It's a massive amount of fun just sitting down and seeing what kind of shit crawls out of my subconscious, what worlds I can build one paragraph at a time.

"Impostor Syndrome", which is not an AMA-recognized term, and is currently ensconced in that slightly grotty zone of overlap between pop-psychology and actual medical practice, is characterized by the inability to recognize your own accomplishments. You tend to hear about this sort of angst amongst professors and doctors and so on. People who've spent a vast amount of time in college and then suddenly find themselves in their actual career, with no mental space to adjust. They walk out in front of the classroom, or a court room, or what have you, not mentally prepared to realize that they're officially grown-ups now and are fully qualified to do what they do.

It's this mental inertia which causes problems.

I think everybody carries a ton of baggage due to decades of daily habit that you have to overcome to do something you want to do. When I was sixteen, I found myself in the position of having to learn to drive. I'd never touched a car, except to get in the bits of it that did not have a steering wheel. I couldn't conceive of myself as being someone who should be entrusted with the right to control a two ton beast on wheels (or, in my case, the family Pontiac) and be able to send it hurtling in any direction I wanted, even the stupid ones. I had a lot of mental inertia to overcome.

I've had similar mental barriers all the time and, in almost every case, they were worth overcoming. There was no way I could imagine myself sitting at the bottom of a lake, staring fish directly in the peepers, but it was worth going through the effort to get my SCUBA license. I couldn't imagine myself lifting heavy weights, being a skinny bastard, but I got over it. In fact, I'd mistaken impostor syndrome for actual fear of activities, which prevented me, for the longest time, from learning to swim or even going to the dentist.

It's worth identifying these stopping points in your psyche, these stubborn little boundaries, and then stepping across them. Even if you find out whatever's on the other side ain't your cup of tea, at least you went and checked.

On a side note, I've noticed a direct correlation between the amount of legitimate story writing I do and the length and rambly-ness (shut up, it's a word now because I've used it as one) of my blog entries. This is a sign that I really, really need to butch the fuck up and get back to the grindstone.

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