Thursday, March 18, 2010

That thing you think you cannot do.

Over at the Foster library, there's an exhibit with influential people and their quotes. Closest to the table where I normally do my work, there's a photo of Oprah Winfrey, and the quote "Do the one thing you think you cannot do." I pass by it about 10 times a day, every time I get up to buy a zesty japanese beverage from the vending machine.

The one thing I think I cannot do, but would really like to do, is write a book. Not just for the sake of writing one, but because I have an idea of something I'd really like to say. I fear I cannot do this because I can't possibly imagine that I can create something that would actually be taken seriously. Who am I to be offering my opinion? There will always be someone more qualified to write it. There will always be someone who could write it better. This self-defeating attitude is really sticking in my craw, but I can't seem to shake it.

I have mastered the art of giving a prof what he wants to read. I can dissect a prompt, do adequate research to compile 30 pages of work enough to get a good grade. But even in the best papers I've written, I'm really only sampling the ideas of others. When the topic is "The Israeli/Palestinian conflict" or "the monetary policy of the EU", there is nothing truly original I could claim as my own. It's all been said, by smarter people than I. I'm simply reading all the arguments, deciding which makes the most sense, and then regurgitating it back in some stylized prose. If someone were to say to me "write a book about this particular topic, using these resources, addressing these issues," I could churn it out, no problem. It's the insecurity that I feel from having to own the entire thing - the idea, the execution, the argument. It's the argument I'm afraid of. I'm afraid I'll make an easily defeated argument. Thank god I didn't go to law school. You'd think that I would have more confidence in my own brain after all this freaking schoolwork. I had more confidence before I even started.

I'm fired up by the idea. I come up with thoughts about the project in my dreams. (Usually I'm having these thoughts on the jungle island in LOST, since we've been watching about 3 episodes a night in an effort to catch up to the current season.) I'm terrified that if I don't follow through with this, that I will have caved to my fears, my mediocrity. I will have taken the easy way out. And this is why I'm putting this on the darn blog. Because I need to say it out loud so that the embarrassment of never following through with it will actually force me to do the one thing I think I cannot do.


Linny said...

There is certainly no one more qualified to tell your stories or share your ideas than yourself. Go for it!

Heather Hansen said...

We all fear. That's what make you a writer. ;)

Sierra said...

Wow. You just verbalized several thoughts that have been floating around in my head for quite some time. You are not alone in your uncertainty. Thanks for having the courage to commit the idea to paper (so to speak). You've certainly got me thinking again. I say "go for it!" too. I know it is not that simple but there's nothing like taking one baby step and then another. Sooner or later, the thing that cannot be done is, in fact, done.

Sumeba Miyako said...

thank you for all your encouragement ladies! The one benefit to opening up your fears naked on the internet is knowing that your friends feel the same way.

lee said...

I have met 1000's upon 1000's of people and not a single one of them has been more talented than you. If you put your mind to it, you will author a novel that will live long after you cease to do so and will be taken "seriously" by all who read it...but, only if you decide to do it. It is your decision. God gave you all the tools as His gift to you ~ what you create with those tools is your gift to Him...(your Mom would like that :)