I am a lazy blogger.  It probably isn’t a secret.  Most of my posts are unpolished and clearly just an unwinding of something within me.  Lately, they aren’t even new, just links to things I have already written that are appearing elsewhere.  In truth, I haven’t been writing a lot the past few weeks; I write every day, but some days the words are few and feel miles from anything remotely palatable.

Most often, here and outside of the blog, I write without direction.  I don’t do research or develop plot lines.  I put in the time and the work, but I let the words themselves guide me. I revisit them and change them, smash them and polish them, especially with my poetry, but I don’t approach them with forethought.  I suppose the unwinding is simply my writing process, but this saturates me with self-doubt; I always return to the idea that I must be doing it wrong, that I don’t have the tools to do it right.  I am terrified that I will finally discover what I have feared all along, that I am a fraud.

These moments of self-doubt and fear are things that come with  being an artist of any kind, with being a human being, but they can be relentless. The fear of being a fraud is something that has beaten me down throughout my life.  When I was a child, I believed that the only thing that gave me value was that I was a nice person, but I wasn’t always nice.  I wasn’t a bully, not even close, but I had mean thoughts sometimes, did hurtful things; I was a failure at being nice. I was a fraud.  As I got older, I realized that it isn’t possible for anyone to be nice all of the time; it isn’t real or honest.  We all struggle with parts of ourselves that are varied and complex and messy.  But, those early thoughts of being fraudulent stuck with me.

I am the youngest of, first three kids, then six, and now five.  My family is full of high achieving, highly educated and hugely successful people.  They save lives, build cities, write stories of epic strength, create change and strive to make the world a better place. They fight through unimaginable adversity and still achieve the spectacular. They discuss things over dinner that I couldn’t even begin to understand.  They are self-confident and fearless in their opinions.  Their voices are bold and loud and fill up rooms.  There is no space in my family for silence.  I am the silence. Or at least I believed I was.

For years, I  kept my opinions to myself; I believed them weightless and without value.  My ideas lived in the shadows of brilliant minds. I strived for nothing because I felt certain I would fail, that I would falter and drown in the footsteps of the greatness that came before me, revealing how pale I was next to the light of my parents and my siblings.

In private, I searched for myself, found the courage to strip away the silence and find my own voice through writing. But, I remained terrified of being revealed as a fraud, terrified that I would find out I had been fooling myself in believing that I could be a writer. I never joined a writing group or took a writing class. I called myself a writer, but kept my writing secret.  For years, I felt forgotten, but time taught me that I allowed myself to be forgotten, stayed safe under the moniker of failure and believed the mere idea of my existence to be worthless.  I  found comfort in believing that because I was different, I wasn’t good enough.

Now, I feel myself evolving out of the shadows, but the fear of discovering I am a fraud is something I may never be able to entirely abandon.  It creeps up my neck and pulls me into its teeth. It shows up at strange times. When I am going through a seemingly successful period as a writer, or when I write a particular thing that seems to resonate  with people, I am terrified that whatever I write next will be without voice or texture.  I am afraid that I have been emptied out, that my writing has no range, my words no substance.   It is a familiar ache, but one I no longer settle into with such ease; it is one I look at and try to learn from.

Today, I allowed my fear to teach me something that, as a writer, gives me a sense of peace, perhaps even a sense of purpose. If the last thing I wrote is the best thing I will ever write, the last thing that will resonate with someone, make them feel not so alone or encourage them to look at themselves and the world with different eyes, if my words have given even a drop of these things to someone, then I have done something amazing, and that is the greatest thing I could ask for.  What I write next, I can write without pressure or expectation (maybe).