I can't speak for all writers, but I can admit to a substantial dose of self-doubt. Some days, nothing worth reading is produced even after hours of hunting-and-pecking on my keyboard. On other days, I can hardly get my six trained typing fingers to move quickly enough to record the flood of ideas before they are lost. But even on those days when every creative piston is firing at maximum output, it might only take an episode of cleverly-written TV, or a chapter of someone else's work, to knock the affirmation of my work right out from under me.
Have you been there too?
It's not just writers. It happens to great cooks and wonderful stylists, to race car drivers, and singers, and dancers, and piano teachers. I tried to put everything into my mothering. I made my children's Halloween costumes and quiet books, read and sang until I was hoarse, tied receiving blankets around my neck so I could fly when we played super heroes, and snuggled under blankets while Ernie and Bert sang about brushing our teeth and turning off the lights.
I also canned bushels of fruit, sometimes staying up into the wee hours of the morning to complete that day's quota until I hated summer and early fall. And why did I have to have three hundred jars of fruit canned by the end of the season when there were still so many there from the previous year? I think it was because it was some quantiative measurement of my mothering and homemaking. It was something I could see and touch that told me I had gone the extra mile for my family, but also? It was a goodly number, one the older, expert homemakers would greet with respect. For some reason, at twenty-four, I thought I needed that.
Admiring can be helpful, but comparing is often bad. Oh, to get past the need to compare.
Maybe it was the crazy home I grew up in. We weren't the Cleavers. But oh, how I wanted to be June for my own little family. I looked for Junes at church, and patterned myself after them. Some of what I picked up was good, but the rush to be like them often left me glue-gunned scarred and exhausted and deflated.
I look around at the young mothers of today and say, "Embrace your uniqueness!" I can now proudly proclaim that I don't enjoy crafts. There! I admitted it! And guess what else? I buy canned fruit at the grocers! Man alive, was that a liberating change for me!
I like being fifty-something, but I don't want to be one of those women young mothers look at and compare themselves to. I surely don't want my daughters and daughters-in-law doing that to themselves. Admire a bit? Sure. I'd like that. And come to for advice now and then? Oh, yeah. I have a bit of that to share. But they are more confident than I was at their age, and more comfortable in their own skin. By and large, they have the very talents I always longed for and never attained. And that's why the Lord led me to writing. No glue guns involved, and no canning jars.
So today when I feel the need to compare a chapter to someone else's work, I'm going to be kind to myself. I'm going to own this moment, this talent, this chapter, and see it as a gift--something peaceful and fulfilling the Lord gave me, and I'm going to be thankful. Be kind to yourself today also!