Am I? Hell, yes! How am I an insecure writer? Let me count the ways:
I am insecure financially. Every month is a struggle, every trip to the shops a juggle. (See what I did there? I can make art out of anything!)
I am insecure in my talent. Do I have any talent, or am I just kidding myself? Sometimes I feel I’m shot through with holes like a paper doyley.
I am insecure whenever I send anything off. Is it any good? What will people think when they read it? Will it even get read?
I am insecure when the work comes back – or more likely, doesn’t come back. Often there’s just an empty silence. You throw out a message in a bottle and it gets washed up or else it drowns. What it doesn’t do is get to the person you want to send it to. So here I am on my desert island losing my bottles.
I am insecure whenever I publish something. I am terrified of bad reviews and nasty comments and even constructive criticism can feel like a cannon-ball blasting a hole in my gut.
So that’s quite a good array of insecurities. Fortunately for me, today is insecure writers’ day. It has been brought to my attention that there is a blog for people like me (which, let’s face it, is probably just about every writer – I imagine even JK Rowling has bad days.) I once saw Stephen Fry deal with stage fright by making a joke of all his fears, which included tripping over, vomiting all over the audience, forgetting the English language and saying something completely inappropriate. Any performer worth their salt is terrified before they go on stage. Last summer I was on my way to a poetry performance when I ran into a friend. God, she said. You look like you’re on your way to be executed.
Which was exactly how I felt. Why do I put myself through this? I was thinking. And the reason is the same for me as it is for any other artist (performer, writer) – because I must. A part of my nature demands it.
There’s a comedy series on Channel 4 (yes, I do watch other channels occasionally) called The Mimic. It’s about a guy who works in a supermarket but is an excellent mimic and dreams of one day having his own TV show. A friend of his gets him an interview on TV – his big break – and when the big moment comes, he’s hiding in the toilets. And that, when it comes down to it, is a far worse nightmare than any of the others; that when your big moment comes, you’ll be hiding in the toilets. As T S Eliot put it, ‘I have seen the eternal footman hold my coat and snicker. And in short, I was afraid.’
So that’s me being an insecure writer. But you gotta go out there and do it because, like they say, in the end it’s not the things you do that you regret; it’s the things you don’t do. So I fall flat on my face – so what? I can get up and make a joke and start again.
Although vomiting on the audience is I guess harder to deal with…
Anyway, here’s the support group: