Contempt and Doubt


'm having an interesting problem, to which I alluded in my last post. It’s one of the main reasons I don't read much straight fantasy. You see, I started with the best; I read all five books of A Song of Ice and Fire and was blown away. I lived in Westeros for month after glorious, enthralling month. I never wanted to leave. But when I finally finished the last page and realized how long it could be before there were any new works from George R. R. Martin, I was devastated. The best was now behind me. What was the point of reading other fantasy if it couldn’t compare?  Right now, I'm feeling the same way about my beloved paranormal and urban fantasy; I feel like I've read all the best, and now I can only wait for new books to be published. So when they are, I don't want to read them, because then I won't be able to look forward to spending time between their pages in the future. My sublime reading experiences will be over and leave me bereft.

o, as I’ve mentioned, I'm reading Burned again instead of Feverborn. And I'm reading very, very slowly. I'm pacing myself and allowing myself only a few minutes of paradise at a time. Luckily, I have a new idea for a blog post every few pages of Karen Marie Moning's books. Today's topic is self-doubt and self-loathing. Fun stuff, I know. But necessary to contemplate, and conveniently addressed by Mac Lane, one of my all-time favorite characters.

In Burned, Mac has gone from MVP to bench warmer in the quest to save the world, fight the Fae, and right injustice. She has good reasons to ‘ride the pines’ Mac is compromised by a monster inhabiting her body, who continually tempts her to acts of extreme power—and destruction. So she needs to lie low. Unfortunately for Mac, her fallow season has coincided with an impending, multi-faceted apocalypse. Timing is everything, now isn’t it? Anyhoo… being benched and prevented from action makes Mac frustrated, to say the least. To say the most, it's making her not only doubt herself, but also hate herself. As she says, "I do nothing. And my self-contempt grows."  I can relate. 

Obviously, I'm not being called on to save the world. Good thing for the world. But I do have responsibilities.  And I have the calling of my desire—that which I want to do and accomplish and achieve. Problem is, I often find myself where Mac is. I do nothing. And my self-contempt grows. Except when those feelings are eclipsed by my feelings of self-doubt.  Self-contempt presupposes I can do something, I just won't.  Self-doubt undermines this assumption with persistent thoughts that I won't because I can't. Sucks any way you slice it. 

I want to write books. Originally, this blog was intended to be a book written in thousand-word increments.  I thought I was pretty clever. The blog book would be my first offering. My second effort would go beyond the first, and dig deeper into all that I've learned about being human from my non-human teachers within the pages of my beloved fantasy books. My third tome – predicated on people actually reading my first and second - was to be my foray into fiction. I want to be like my writer rock stars—the authors I yearn to emulate, including, of course, Karen Marie Moning, as well as JR Ward, Thea Harrison, Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Jeaniene Frost, Patricia Briggs and Faith Hunter. I want to join this club so much it hurts. 

But I do nothing—or almost nothing—or at least not enough. And my self-contempt grows. As does my doubt. Who am I to seek to join these august ranks? I've never been much of a fiction writer—just an avid reader—so what makes me think I can don the mantle in middle age?  If it were going to happen, wouldn't it have done so already? And if I can't even produce a non-fiction book when I have more than 500 pages of material, what does that say about my chances of being a published fiction writer? I know what it says about my chances for drinking too much.

The mind spins and the brain boggles. I'm paralyzed with contempt and doubt. I don't have a demon inside tempting me to destruction as Mac does… or do I? Maybe my demons are the doubt and insecurity that plague me and tell me I can't. Maybe those demons are in league with the others that tell me I'm shit because I waste time on Facebook or staring into space or watching paint dry instead of writing. Maybe I'm exactly like Mac with enormous power within, but too afraid of the destruction that could attend it.

Maybe I think entirely too much and I should just shut up and freaking ‘do it’ already. And maybe I should also consider that like Mac, doing something can sometimes look like doing nothing.  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to stand down until the time to act is right. Maybe my expectations of what ‘doing something’ looks like are incorrect, and I'm doing more than I think.

And there I go, thinking again. Maybe I need to shut my brain down for a while and see what flows.  Maybe then I won't be consumed with contempt and I can stop drowning in doubt. It could happen… I hope.