I have a lot of idols, writers and other creative types (artists, actors, directors, etc.), that I look up to and I think, "Wow, you've got it so together. What the f*@k is wrong with me?" It's in those moments that I begin to think about all the things I should be doing, but don't do well. Things that are supposed to help bolster my career as a writer (whatever that means): the Twitter, the Facebook, the Blogging, my website upkeep, networking, pitching, querying, and the list goes on. You know the list, it's the one you start to compile when you go to writers' conferences and workshops and every writer tells you what they do, every editor and agent tells you what they want, and you just start to assimilate all of it rather than picking and choosing what actually might work best for you (because you don't have any sense at all. Well, YOU might have sense, but I don't). And it's in those moments that I begin my desent. My downward spiral. It's then that the doubt and the fear and the disillusionment begins. Call it insecurity, call it the artist's lament, either way, if I allow it to get a hold of me, it can take quite a long time for me to dig myself out of it.
So, last night, I was doing what I often do when I'm not writing and worrying about how I'm not writing whilst realizing that the worrying about not writing is just not writing and I'd be better off writing but I don't write because I'm a hot mess and I decide to wallow in my writer's lament...
I googled Benedict Cumberbatch.
(I don't always google Benedict, sometimes it's Joss Whedon, sometimes it's J.J. Abrams or James Hance or J.K Rowling or someone else on that long list of creative people I idolize.)
Last night it was Benedict Cumberbatch.
Anyway, I adore The Cumberbatch. He's one of those amazing creative types (a British actor, if you are unaware) who, I think, will be considered The Actor of my generation. And I mean that quite literally. His birthday is only three months before mine. Why is this important? Well, it goes back to what I said before--Benedict is one of those creative types I idolize and I often think, "Wow! You've got it together. What the sh*t is my problem?" 36-years-old, like me, Ben's part of the successful, well-loved BBC Series Sherlock, and in the last few years he's been a part of some amazing projects: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse, Atonement, The Hobbit, and Star Trek (just to name a few). Not only is his career exploding, but I believe he genuinely deserves the attention. He's an amazing actor and he's intelligent, charismatic, and possesses unearthly cheekbones.
Ultimately, in this moment of the downward spiral, thinking of Benedict Cumberbatch makes me feel crappy about myself and my lack of success (again... whatever that word means). We're the same age, he and I, and I look at him and I think (because I have engaged in that desent), "I am a waste of air and space. What the sh*t have I been doing the last 36 years?"
I know, I know. I know what you are going to say. "It's not Ben's fault!"
Of course it's not Benedict's fault. I know that! I'm not totally unaware of my accountability in all this. I'm also very aware that the comparison is ridiculous. For one, I'm not British. Secondly, I'm not an actor. I'm definitely not a dude. And even if I lost 60 lbs, I am never going to have cheekbones like his. Ever.
Nevertheless, thinking of him in this way makes me feel totally inadequate as I stare at the mess of a manuscript in my lap and the six other (once promising) novel projects that haven't quite made it off the ground. It's an anxiety-ridden despair that makes me wonder, why the hell am I doing any of this anyway?
But, keep in mind, I've been googling Benedict Cumberbatch throughout this whole desent process.
This is what I stumble upon:
|Screenshot from a USA Today Article by Brian Truitt|
God love you Benedict and your f*ck!ng amazing cheekbones.
In the last several years of trying so hard to write a publishable manuscript and pave a way to break into the market, I had forgotten this simple fact: I love writing. I cannot imagine an existence without me doing it. And when I'm in it, doing it with passion and without distraction, I really enjoy my job.
Do I want an audience? Absolutely. But not at the detriment of my love for the job which I so enjoy doing. It's so easy to get caught up in all the extraneous things that have to do with writing for an audience, but that doesn't preclude that the first and foremost focus should ever stop being the writing. Without the writing, the rest of it is for naught. That I do know and I often forget that the work is the work.