Unbelievable Things

husband's favorite picture for reasons I can't understand
husband's favorite picture for reasons I can't understand

“He’s talking about marriage,” I said to L.

“Is he?” she said.

“He’ll snap out of it,” I said.

L. laughed. She was so pretty. Men looked at her everywhere we went. “Why do you say that?” she said.

“They always do,” I said because I wanted to be funny.

It is hard to believe nice things said about my work. Where does this doubt come from? The other day my five-year-old son said, “My art is stupid. Nobody likes my art.” How many words does it take to undo that thinking?

Where does your doubt about your work come from? If you don’t have any doubt, how did it miss you?

7 thoughts on “Unbelievable Things

  1. I don’t know where my doubt comes from, but I do know it’s all over the place. And stronger at certain times than other times, but it’s always there. I imagine that even successful published authors can still have doubts.

    That’s a great picture, that’s why! I have a photo of my husband taken in Zion Nat’l Park when we were dating, and he can’t understand why I like it so much. He’s got a bandana around his head, his face is red, and he’s got a backpack on his back. I think I like it because I always really wanted to marry an outdoorsman! But I got a day hiker instead. Ah well.

  2. Insecurity? Where??? I think it comes from my dad, honestly… my dad’s own insecurity about his art and his egotism and his believe that the Man was out to get him and would never pay him what he was worth.

    I’ve thought about this. Not to blame my dad. It might have come from somewhere else if it hadn’t come from him, but it all circles around the marketplace and money. I’ve never felt insecure about DOING the work, even showing the work isn’t that hard for me. It’s the money. I’m so sick of obsessing over it and letting it stop me. How do I knock it off?

    I don’t know. Is it worth giving all that energy to our insecurities? Is it worth letting them stop us? Sometimes I think about where I will be in five years if I continue to let myself be stopped by my fears. I won’t be happy with it. I will be stuck and I will feel worse about myself if I keep going in this direction.

    What’s that quote about flowering because it is more painful to stay tight in the bud?

  3. The doubt about my work happens, oddly, from wondering why I’ve always felt more confident about it than anyone else — particularly, than anyone else in a position to publish it. 🙂 I always had this sort of placid disregard for others’ comments — I mean, enjoying them when they were nice, noting but not acting on them otherwise, but never used to question myself very hard. That’s a new twist, and it’s exactly because I suddenly thought to myself, What the heck are you so sure of, anyhow? And most importantly, WHY? Gulp.

    That is a nice picture, btw. (One of The Missus’s favorite ones of me is the one with the cat, from last week’s blog post. I have the same kind of reaction: huh? why that one???)

  4. Shelli, I wanted to marry a man who could dance… ah well indeed.

    rowena, hearing my son express doubts about his own ability makes me question if my doubts really come from my parents. Perhaps certain things contributed to it and shaped it, but I suspect that doubt is part of human nature–except for JES. ha-ha.

    JES, do you think that men are less prone to doubt? Or expressing it? I don’t know if gender has much to do with it, but I’m used to hearing women express doubt in their abilities, not men. This is a topic that could go far…

  5. I think you’re closer with “less prone to express” than with “less prone to doubt.” A lot of what passes among many (most?) guys for self-assurance — swagger, braggadocio, sarcasm, bluster — is just a sublimated expression of deep uncertainty. Certainly women can be dishonest, to themselves even, but — at least in Western culture — they seem better adapted to communicating emotional states. OTOH, I think women tend to underestimate themselves. (Hmm. Is it “too prone to express doubt,” or “too prone to doubt”?) So, really, we’re ALL screwed up one way or the other. 🙂

    But Lord knows I can’t speak for men in general, let alone women.

    One of these days I’ll unearth and post some real relics: writing from the pre-personal-computer age. Aside from any flaws in the writing, plotting, and so on — the “tools of the trade” — they mainly demonstrate the dangers to one’s work too much confidence can bring.

  6. Oh, completely wracked with doubt … we all have creative monsters. It was easier to send samples to agents than let anyone I know see the book. Now it is increasingly ‘out there’ all the old monsters are rearing their heads (swings sword with grim determination).

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