Finding your voice

Not too long ago, I was having dinner with some friends, a couple. One of them described a book she had just read, but couldn’t think of the author or the title. Based on her synopsis, I remarked that it “sounded like something Chuck Palahniuk would write.” She ended up looking up the book on her phone, and the author was … Chuck Palahniuk. Her girlfriend was impressed that I could identify the author correctly — I hadn’t actually read the book.

I’ve thought about that exchange since it happened, and I’m still torn on whether, from a writer’s perspective, it’s good or bad or both or neither. On the one hand, here is a writer with such a developed voice and tone that a mere summary of a book was enough for me to identify him. On the other, from a more cynical perspective, it could be seen as the mark of someone who perhaps relies too much on a singular focus.

As a writer who does far too little of her own writing, I fell on the side of positivity (how un-Palahniuk of me) and settled on the former interpretation. I’d honestly love for someone down the line to read something I’ve written, or hear about something I’ve written, and positively ID me as the author. Really, it shows a familiarity with the overall body of work, and that’s something an author should strive for.

(The book was “Invisible Monsters,” I think.)

Advertisements

Overcoming a mental block

This is very hard to write about, but I think that if I do, I’ll feel better about it.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to loosen up and let go and just let things happen. I like being in control of myself and having a plan, knowing what I’m going to do, and when, and how. But it’s hard to do that when another person is involved. So right off the bat, that lack of control is kind of frightening. At the same time, I have to respect the other party and accept that in this situation, I’m along for the ride.

I’m pretty personally bruised in this area, having been hurt deeply before. It’s been more than a year and I’m still not sure I’m completely over it or if I’ll ever be. But I don’t want it to affect my future with anyone else, and part of making sure that doesn’t happen is overcoming this sense of dread. This fear that at any moment, the other shoe will drop and I’ll be left alone, that I’m unlovable or not worth the effort. That other women are more interesting, or friendlier, more outgoing, prettier, or otherwise superior to me. It hits me at varying times: on the subway, at night in bed, when I walk to the Metro.

It’s a sick, nagging feeling. I have to tamp it down every day. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. I try not to let this persistent sense of self-doubt affect the new things, but it’s hard. And I’m terrified of explaining how and why I often feel this way, lest I prove myself right.

I just have to keep at it, keep blocking out the noise and realizing what I really do have to offer.

(Baked goods.)