Monday, April 21, 2014

Writing and Self-Confidence - I Was Green With Envy!

Noteworthy Writing Prompt # 7
Why do you procrastinate to write?

This writing prompt I gave to myself. It didn't come from my husband, it came from me. The truth is, I needed to take a good hard look at why I don't write. I hadn't written anything in 2 weeks, but I wanted to.

Why didn't I?

I don't know about you but, this feeling goes deep within, that is, the feeling or need to share stories. Not just any stories, though, ones with passion and purpose. Ones that show our humanness, our frailties, weaknesses, stupidity, wisdom, and strengths. Stories that are entertaining, yet also make people take a moment out of their busy schedules to contemplate or mull over what's been said. 

Stories that perhaps... change a life.

"I'm not good enough." Was the answer that came back each time I asked the question. That feeble, small, nervous, scared child inside of me. 
"She writes so much better than me," she whimpers inside of me, "I'll never be as good as her." She's my nemesis, and her lack of self confidence and fear paralyzes me. Sometimes, it takes days for me to find the hero inside and other times it take weeks. Self-confidence, or lack of it, is a big problem for some writers and it may be why you aren't writing. Fear holds us back, like a fence, keeping us from living in freedom.

Please don't give up. Take some time to think about why, and then write. Don't worry about what it looks like when it first comes out.

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. - Anne Lamott

 Just write.

This story I reluctantly share with you, because it shows some of my dark struggles with writing. I only share it, so that others, perhaps going through the same thing, may see it and then choose to write anyways. This story is why I started Noteworthy Writing Prompts, so we could all have a safe place to explore and help encourage each other to write.

We all have a unique voice. This place is to find yours.

I Was Green With Envy
By Anuschka de la Court and Alora de la Court

“Wow!” That was her first reaction. She and her husband stared at each other in amazement. She clutched three pages of a grade ten writing assignment in her cold hands. The sound of the clock ticked away the seconds as husband and wife stared at each other in silence.
“This is really good!” The high standard of writing came from their 15 year old daughter, but it could have easily have come from someone like Margaret Atwood.
“The details in this story are amazing.” Her husband had tears in his eyes and she could tell by his voice that he was trying to hold back the emotions.
“We gave her this,” he continued, “the descriptions of the forest and mountains. That’s us and our family adventures she’s describing.” He was right. This came from her memory bank. But even so, very few writers could put their memories together in such a beautiful way. Then it dawned on her. Her 15-year-old daughter was a higher calibre of writer than she was.
“All these years of wanting to be a writer,” she moped later that evening as she sat shivering on the cold leather couch, “I’ve been aspiring to write an amazing story for so many years.” She sighed, “and my daughter’s Grade 10 English assignment was better than anything I’ve ever written in all my 40 years of attempted writing.”
“He was right,” she thought back to her grade 12 teacher who rolled his eyes at her written assignment and said in no kind terms, “You write like you talk. Don’t you dear.” As if to insinuate that she was an uneducated hillbilly just writing random thoughts down in no particular order or wisdom. Her shoulders slumped and after thirty years she felt the cold fingers of disappointment reach up and grab her.  The fingers of dispiritedness that kept her from writing all these years holding her back from what she thought she was meant to do. What she was created to do. Now, after 30 some odd years, she’s decided to pick it up again, BOOM! Her daughter out writes her and those old defeating self-pity thoughts of  long ago, hung in the air around her. She should be happy for her beautiful daughter, but in its place she found herself green with envy, an ugly kind of green that comes from sinful vane thoughts and attitudes.
“This is wrong.” She tried to shake off the darkened thoughts, but instead reached for her daughter’s perfectly detailed story and read it again.

Dark clouds hang from the sky. Smudges and smears of an array of greys fill them in as if coloured in with pencil by a toddler. Strong gusts of wind whip my hair across my face, stinging my cheeks. I can tell just by the scent carried through the wind that it’s about to rain.
“I’ll never get out of here,” I say to myself, “I’m lost.”
Tall mountains stand proud on either side of me, coated with a thick layer of trees and underbrush. I can feel the eyes of the forest on my back, watching my every move curiously and attentively. I think to myself, “How did a simple jog in the forest go so wrong?”
A shock jolts through me as a cold raindrop lands on my neck and glides painfully slow down my back. I break into a run, “Find shelter… I have to find shelter.” I jump over a fallen tree, struggling through thin, cold branches and leaves that seem to be reaching, pulling at me, weighing me down until I break, falling to my damp, cold, bug infested grave. My face is pressed into the dirt. I see my body behind me, twisted in a very unnatural position. I’m panting, out of breath. It’s as if I’m on the outside, glancing back at my tangle of limbs.
“Get up!” my brain screams. My body yells back, “I’m thirsty!” There’s a dull ache in my right ankle as well. I could just lay here, embraced by the cool grasp of the ferns and leaves, but my brain wins the argument as another raindrop hits my forehead. I pull myself to my feet, untangling myself and shaking off the dirt from my running clothes and sneakers. I glace up just in time to see the last of the suns rays sliding down the mountain on my left. It will be dark soon.
Learning my lesson, I start off in a speed walk rather then a panicked run. The clouds are catching up and I’m running out of daylight, but somehow, I almost feel at peace. I look up and a blue jay takes off from the top of a tree, leaving its branches swaying as if dancing to the rhythm and melody of the forest. It flies over my head and I catch a glimpse of golden sunrays dancing and flitting on his back, playing in the colours of his feathers.
“Beautiful!” My heartaches with sudden joy and for a second I forget I’m lost and probably miles away from home, and I just stand, amazed by the view that the blindfold of panic had hidden from me.
I look up once again to an image I would never be able to erase from my memory. The dark pencil smudges have been chased away by ribbons of pinks, purples, amber's and gold’s, swirling in the sky and wrapping around the tops of the trees. I realize I have sunk to my knees in amazement and I quickly pull myself up, feeling the chill of the two damp patches that run from my knees to the top of my spine. Suddenly, bright colours exploding from the sky disrupt my peace. Fireworks.
I find my way to an urban amusement park, guided by the eruptions and explosions and while I walk along the road to home, I look back with the image of the sunset in my mind, and the blue jay, only to be greeted by a dark night sky, the stars covered by a dark blanket of clouds, it was over.
I walked the rest of the way home in a daze with the memory of the forest in my heart.

She found herself clutching her daughter’s assignment against her heart. In the quiet loneliness of the evening, she was crying, not because she was jealous, that horrible feeling was only a fleeting moment in time, but because she was overflowing with love and pride that her baby did this. The green was gone; in its place was a beautiful rainbow of emotions.
“This was a gift,” she sniffed, “a gift that God gave to her.” She knew, that as a Mom and a teacher, she had to help harness this gift and guide her daughter to be what she was created to be.

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