The Tongues of Men

A novel in redraft by Gabriel Smy

The roller coaster of confidence

If you are involved in a work of creativity, I’m guessing you know all about the confidence roller coaster.

There are some weeks that I read through what I’ve written and smile at the genius of it, enjoying the little flourishes in the prose, and the cadences at each chapter end. The following week I have another look, find all the mistakes and inconsistencies, and am struck by how much work there is to do to make this book work in any way at all, and conclude that, to put not too fine a point on it, IT’S ALL SHIT.

One of the reasons I have not blogged in a while is that I was in a belly-lurching low over the book (don’t feel sorry for me though – the other reason is that I’ve been on holiday smoking Montecristos in a hot tub).

I’ve heard it said that if you don’t think what you’ve written is rubbish then it won’t be any good. That makes some kind of sense. Like spotting the best musicians in an orchestra because while other people are showing off during the warm up, they sit silently, waiting for the conductor. Those that show off their ability still have a long way to go. Perhaps because thinking they are already great retards them at that stage, whereas the awareness of our limitations allows us to improve.

The funny thing about the roller coaster of thoughts and feelings about creative work and ability is that awareness doesn't seem to put the brakes on it. In (my amateur version of) psychology, awareness is usually the first step to dissipating many problems. But I can be acutely aware of the ups and downs I experience in confidence – and they come around again all the same.

Where awareness does help, though, is that the roller coaster does not have to run the show. Whether my feelings are ridiculously inflated or miserably pessimistic, I tell myself that they are just par for the course, and I book in my writing weeks anyway, buy a couple of cinnamon whirls and sit down to write.

And I suppose if the average artists are the ones who don’t experience the crisis, then perhaps those of us who are on the roller coaster have the chance to create something pretty special, eventually.

But I might only be saying that because I’m on an up.


Post a Comment 1 comments:

  • Jon said...
    21 April 2011 at 11:23
    oh so, so true... maria (mid album)

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