Today, Guest Blogger, Terry L. Needham, highlights writers' self-doubt in poetry and prose. We can all relate to, and perhaps learn from, what this award winning author has to say. You can read my review of his memoir book, When I Was A Child here.
Writing feels like digging a ditch.
You take shovel in hand,
Bend over, shove blade hard into dirt,
Your back begins to ache,
Sweat breaks out on your brow,
And, you could really use a drink, as
Self-doubt whispers in your ear,
Until the shovel is full of words,
Pitched over your shoulder into a pile.
The pile of words slowly grows,
But the ditch seems to go on forever . . .
And you wonder if it will ever end,
And, Hell . . . does the world really need
One more ditch . . . or another pile of words?
10.26.2013 – T. L. Needham
CONQUERING SELF-DOUBT – T. L. Needham December 14, 2016
My poem, “Self Doubt” was written to explore the feelings many writers feel that stand between them and success. But, not just writers, virtually everyone feels self-doubt when they confront a challenge in life, including performers, athletes, and even the poor sap longing to ask the boss for a raise in pay.
But, I shall focus on my own self-doubt, which haunts me every time I begin to write. I was a 10-year old 4th grader when I first felt the inspiration to write someday. My teacher was reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain to the class. I was so captivated by the story that I checked the book out of the library and read ahead to see what happened next. I soon felt the stirring ambition that I could write too.
Alas, I also seeded my own ignorance and a future obstacle to writing, when I concluded that I talked pretty good already. Thus I really did not need to learn that boring English-grammar stuff. So, I tuned it out for years in school. How wrong I was, as I set the foundation for my own wall of ignorance and self-doubt.
Soon, as an adult, I realized I had let a wall of ignorance rise between my ambition to be a writer, and my knowledge of proper grammar. I even coined a phrase to remind me, “A wise man knows what he does not know.” By this, I remained aware of my own ignorance.
So, as a writer who has a talent for story telling, but confronts a wall of ignorance each time I put words on paper. I embraced every tool I could to help me overcome this flaw. I rely heavily on THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE to guide me. I also seek out editors to help rake the flaws from my prose. Plus, I read other authors constantly. In fact, I have read and written reviews of over 120 books in recent years. All reviews have been posted on Amazon. In doing this, I learn by observing what works for other writers, and I help them too along the way. And, I often read to seek wisdom and inspiration from one of my many favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway, who said— “It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
Thus, my own personal wall of “self doubt” starts to crumble and words begin to flow, for better or for worst. At least until my editor reads them and reminds me once again that those grammar lessons were so essential . . . and it is never too late to learn them!
Terry L. Needham
T. L. Needham is an award winning author and a native of Kansas City. He heard tales of survival of his mother's family, who endured life during the 1920s and 1930s in western Kansas. This inspired him to write a historic memoir—When I Was A Child, which after ten years of research, he published in 2011. It has received numerous honors, including: GOLD MEDAL AWARD—GLOBAL EBOOKS, and HONORABLE MENTION, BEST COVER—GLOBAL EBOOK AWARDS—History, Non-Fiction; and a FINALISTS by USA BOOK NEWS—BEST BOOKS AWARD in the category of History-USA. Plus, it was awarded the BRONZE MEDAL by READERS FAVORITE, a national book review/literary critic/author services firm, and an HONORABLE MENTION—WRITERS DIGEST SELF PUBLISHED BOOK AWARDS.
Other publishing credits include:
Pesky Poems--awarded a SILVER MEDAL from READERS FAVORITE
Kitty Claus--awarded a GOLD MEDAL from READERS FAVORITE
The She Wolf received an HONORABLE award from READERS FAVORITE
Winning and Keeping Relocation Business