Tuesday, 11 October 2011

First Day Nerves

I couldn’t write this post last night, nor could I write it this morning. I couldn’t write it for one reason: I was panicking, fretting, worrying, and was even convinced for a moment that I was about to die suddenly from a heart attack. Obviously, I didn’t die – I’m not writing this from beyond the grave – and my anxiety has now quietened to a mere mumble. Therefore, I feel able to write again...

Today I started back at Lancaster (this is what caused the shortness of breath and rapid heart rate), and I was filled with both a sense of excitement and one of dread. I’m not very good at change. I’m not very good at meeting new people. I’m not very good at being sociable. Therefore, first days are always difficult. I mention this because – as I drove back from Lancaster, having survived the first day – it struck me that my antonymic emotions are not dissimilar to the way in which I feel before writing a poem. There is often an element of enthusiasm – a new idea, a single line, or even just a title is enough to unlock smile-faced serotonins. But at the same time there’s an injection of trepidation, and this always seems to steal away any opportunity of writing a poem that is solely fuelled by untarnished excitement. However, I’ve learnt (sort of) to appreciate both the favoured and unfavoured; to realise that enthusiasm inspires me, while the doubt is the force that moves me, causes things to happen, creates a ‘final’ draft. If I was less self-doubting, I’m almost certain that I wouldn’t write.

This week’s theme is ‘best resource’ and for me, personally, I’d have to say that self-doubt belongs in my top five resources. Yes, I realise it isn’t concrete. It can’t be acquired at the library. It doesn’t have a website that you can visit, and you can’t subscribe to it monthly. But, in terms of poetry, I believe that it is the main thing that pushes me to be the poet that I’d like to be. It’s the editor that I don’t have to pay for. It’s the critic, who keeps me grounded and always asks that I give more.

Alongside the slightly odd choice of ‘self-doubt’, there are also a few more conventional resources on my list: my Roget’s thesaurus, my dictionary, photographs and, when all else fails, ‘Thinking Putty’ (thanks Katy).

Thank you for reading my Tuesday afternoon post,




Lindsay said...

I can relate to those nerves Lara, I get like that when I have to go to a group of new people too. It's got a little better as I've got older though I'm happy to say. I've never thought of looking at my self doubt as resource, but thinking about it now I think you're right. Some of the stuff I'm happiest with I've worried the most over. You needn't have that doubt from an outsider's perspective as you are really good at what you do, but it doesn't matter what I say, you won't believe me. You'll think I'm just being polite, or nice. Keep writing though, it's who you are. Great post Lara :)

Ashley R Lister said...


Sorry for coming to this so late. Please blame the Blackberry outage.

I like the idea of self-doubt as a resource. This is what makes us polish work to its highest standard - worrying about whether or not the readership will 'get' line X or make the connection to line 'Y'.

Without self-doubt - and the struggle for edited quality that it provokes - we'd live in a world full of first drafts.


Anonymous said...

For some self-doubt is the enemy which must be faced in a full-blooded fight. As with all on-going wars some battles are won by the writer and others by a few neurons who sit on a lump of grey matter inside the skull, kicking its feet in a swinging moment into the back of the left eyeball (yes, that is where the migraines come from, honestly). You fight back; my personal retaliation technique involve the use of ice-packs causing the self doubt neurons to shrink. But the heat generated by the creative neurons as you create your masterpiece thaws out the self-doubt neurons and once again they start screaming 'you can't write!'