Self-loathing is in the writer’s blood. When you’re an artist of any kind, there’s no certainty that what you’re working on won’t be a complete failure. But when writers reach a certain level of fame, when they make Oprah’s Book Club or the cover of Time magazine, surely they don’t struggle with the same massive insecurities we lesser known writers face?
The answer, of course, is that it’s human nature to struggle with oneself. That icky feeling of discontent we often experience is what sometimes inspires the best art.
“I experience shame and self-reproach more or less continually,” Jonathan Franzen (author of “Freedom”) told me. “The only way to deal with it is to keep trying to immerse myself in the fictional dream and hope that good sentences come out of that. Once there are good sentences on the page, I can feel a loyalty to them and start following their logic, and take refuge from myself.”
I love the idea of the writer taking refuge from who he is by putting words on the page. Writing, in fact, provides a much needed escape or confrontation with our worst emotions. It’s just so hard to get to that blissful place where the words are all that matters.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the vicious trap of self-defeat. My bedroom is the most organized when I’m on deadline. Is there anything more uncomfortable than staring at a blank page and knowing that you have to fill it with not only words, but words that matter? It’s far easier to walk away from the laptop, to alphabetize the piles of books on my floor, to call a friend and complain about my lack of productivity, to check Twitter and post an inspirational quote about literature or writing. To declare to your followers that you are writing, even when you’ve only written a few sentences and deleted them. The irony, of course, is that what’s uncomfortable is not writing. And the majority of writers spend many hours of their waking lives not writing — whether they’re doing their day jobs or tending to parental duties or just avoiding it. So most of a writer’s life is ridden with guilt.
If you aren't already incapacitated by guilt, and/or nausea, you can read the rest of this article HERE.