Being Different

Being Different


In my April 2 blog post (“So Many Fears”), I suggested a brief process for acknowledging writing fears that will allow the writer to move past them.

Fears seem to be fed by darkness, so bringing them into the light can short-circuit their energy supply and allow us to move forward with our work. (No, not forever. We will probably need to return to this, or another, method of banishing crippling fear from time to time.)


A reader responded on my FB page:

“I find, both for my students and for me, that many of our writing fears come from comparing ourselves to others. Of course, there’s great irony in trying to create art while trying not to be different.”


Oh, yes, comparing is death to creativity.

But “trying not to be different”? That put a whole other spin on it. We only think we want to be different?


Consider this: The fears surrounding our writing (and all other creative endeavors) boil down to the fear of not being accepted, of not being loved—not just our work not being loved, us not being loved.

Do you agree?

If so, what’s the best way to be sure we will be accepted, that we will be congratulated, loved?

By conforming, yes? By following in the footsteps of those who have already gained this acceptance, this admiration—our admiration.

I’m not suggesting that we should venture out completely on our own. The work of those who have come before us teaches us, nourishes us, challenges us to step further out on the limb, closer to the edge of the cliff . . .


But what if we fail? What if we’re not good enough? What if we end up alone with our unread manuscript? What then?


But if we don’t try . . . so we gather our wits and begin to spin a crazy tale, a bloody, gutsy tale (and this can be fictional or not). But what if we’ve gone too far? What if no one will read it? Then what’s the point?

No, we’ll do it. We create the Idea, or allow the Idea to come in, however this works; we can see the whole thing!

But now the work of putting flesh on the bones begins, the work of getting the tale to stick on the page, but not stick, to fly or run or float. And, well, that’s something altogether different.

And so we put the Idea in a dusty apartment in our heads, where it aimlessly wanders from room to room, stops to examine a crack in the wall, a bit of lint on the carpet.


Why have we done this?

If we’re lucky, it, the Idea, will walk by a dirt-streaked window and in a fit of distraction throw it open: The bright, clean sun and warm air will breathe life into its tired bones.

The Idea is ready to burst out of the apartment. But it takes care not to hurl itself out the window! It rushes down the hall, and just as it is ready to explode through the front door, where we will begin to allow it—the vision, the setting, the characters who have been chatting and singing and eating with their fingers and slapping children and kissing old men—to take shape in the light . . .

just as we are beginning to allow this awesome, risky, terrifying freedom, we think of all the reasons it cannot work. We think of all the writers we love; we hold ourselves next to them, they who have never done anything like this, and know we are not worthy.

We quickly, firmly, close the door.



Pam Sourelis writes short stories and personal essays. She assists other writers as a developmental editor, writing instructor, and writing coach/mentor.; also on Facebook



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