The Fear of Being You

The most frequent comment in “Jungle Gym for Monkey Mind” (my online poetry class that just started) is a fear of posting their poetry. It’s not surprising. We do creative work and hide it and we don’t have to think about it. But creative work that’s shared is. . . out there. Makes us vulnerable. And vulnerability leads to. . .discovering who we are. Oh.

Make up your own metaphor about this agave. Nope, it's not an artichoke.

Make up your own metaphor about this agave. Nope, it’s not an artichoke.

Is it the fear of comparison? Sure. I might like your work more than mine. And then I won’t be as good as I thought I was before I read your work. Of course, it would also be that if I read yours and like it, I could see how you put together your work and learn something about creative work, you and me. That doesn’t sound so bad.

The other, sneakier fear is: what if my poem thrills me and is the best one posted? Then who will I have to be next week? I’ll have to be better than I was last week–and for sure, I can’t do that.

Your Inner Critic is a sociopath. A compulsive mis-director of attention and facts. You are not going to win with the Inner Critic. So, just for now, no matter what creative work you are doing, go with the creative urge. If you mess up, you learn something. If you do well, you also learn something. And best of all, you are doing creative work. Making meaning. Building your courage muscle. Exercising your bravery skills. Not a bad result of writing some poetry, is it?

–Quinn McDonald made paper do incredible things this afternoon. She hopes it can happen again.

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28 thoughts on “The Fear of Being You

  1. By the time I laughed through all the comments, which seem to have entered into another, more familiar realm since your recent absence Quinn, I had to go back and check what I was going to reply about . . . a bit like this sentence with it’s aside.
    I was going to say that I bet there’s something in your book about one of my heroes encouraging me to embrace success, get giddy, run through fields of flowers, or in my case across the sand dunes, and then go back to work/play.

  2. I don’t care if it’s an artichoke or not….it has caused me to discover someone named ‘Pete’ who is hilarious!! But a visit to his blog reveals practically nothing about him. As for the inner critic? Danny Gregory calls his ‘the monkey’ and most recently has talked about it on his blog. Fun stuff!!

  3. To save a step or two, there’s really no need to post your work. The NSA reads it regardless. Then the Chinese, who made all the hardware the NSA uses, read everything at the NSA through the secret back doors they built in. Then the Russians and Israelis, better programmers than even the Chinese, cruise right through the dumb mistakes in the NSA’s security and read it too.

    Never mind the inner critic; what does Lester Cummerbund in office 345-8812-B think of your work? (He mentioned, by the way, that you swapped the “7” and the 3″ on your check to the electric company back in April; they owe you 36 cents.)

    Don’t worry about me; I’m not in the NSA…although that’s just what I’d say either way, isn’t it? 🙂

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