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Taking a Different Plath

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” So said Sylvia Plath. Now I appreciate Sylvia Plath was the poster child for deep, dark insecurities, even while she was carving out a place for herself in the contemporary literary canon, but she definitely had a point.

Like Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sylvia Plath, (Hello, my name’s Zoe and I’m a feminist literature freak!), was such a tortured soul she ended own life. Woolf drowned herself at 59; Gilman at 73 decided she’d rather be dead by chloroform than cancer, and Sylvia, at the tender age of 30 put her head in a gas oven.

Even my gal Dorothy Parker tried to do the deed more than once (check out my story You Might as Well Live! for a satirical “behind the scenes” look at her attempts). Yet, Dottie was to fall far short of doing the deed. Just like the new blogger, or new true crime writer, or new short story teller, or new reporter, she never felt she measured up. But I think this is a misnomer.

The one thing I’ve discovered about us writers, from having studied many of the great ones while earning my English degree, is that to a man (or woman) we are all remarkably insecure. And we’re not just talking about you and me here. Even the people who wrote so well their work became examples to emulate by generations of literary students sometimes got their Plath on. With that in mind, what chance do we have?

We have every chance, that’s what! It doesn’t matter what you write, or when you write, or where or for whom. You have to write your thoughts in order to stand a chance of connecting. You have to be prepared to document what a few, or a hundred, or a million people might be thinking. Without the scribes that document the human condition, what else is there?

Readers are fickle, and after the one day you generate 1,000 e-book sales, or 1,000 clicks, or 1,000 shares, your audience may have moved on to the next “best thing.” But, for just that one moment in time, you were able to stir an emotion, generate some reflection, or spur some kind of action. It doesn’t matter that you won’t become the next Stephen King, James Patterson, or JK Rowling. You know the deal. You’re not writing to be one of them. You’re writing because it’s awesome and it brings YOU joy!

Sometimes I get so caught up with how I’m going to make my little voice heard in such a global world. I’m bombarded by solicitations from people who assure me they can make me a success. Maybe they can, maybe they can’t. The important thing for me to remember is I’m not selling a product. It isn’t a matter of creating a prototype which can then be replicated again and again according to demand. Everything I create is unique; a piece of me. And it is in its creation I find my joy. I had a fantastic day today. I found joy by indulging myself with a pedicure. I found joy in lunching with a dear friend. I found joy in writing this post. Especially this post, because I’m looking to connect with you!

What and/or who motivates you to write? What do you do to convince yourself you’re not a failure? All advice will be gratefully received!

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