Self-confidence battles self-loathing, self-criticism, and/or self doubt in most of the entrepreneurs I know.
That takes a lot of energy, and it robs energy from these entrepreneurs doing what they do best: Their life’s work.
I am speaking for those I talk to on a regular basis, including myself. I’m not one of those people who actually talk out loud to myself (I’m far too self-conscious), but I spend a lot of time in my head, interrogating myself.
The primary question, the one I return to in one form or another, is Who am I to say?
To put it more bluntly, and in the voice of the bully who traumatizes me from the inside out, Who the hell are you?
In the service of defeating or at least disarming my inner bully, and in honor of the women who share their words with me in one on one sessions or writing courses, I’m going to answer that question with a big “as if”: as if I truly love and support myself.
I truly love and support myself.
I am a really good writer, and I’ve been working on my writing for over 40 years.
I used to do crossword puzzles until they got too easy. I will do acrostics until my eyes bleed. I’ve learned more about how words and sentences are constructed from acrostics than from any source other than books.
Oddly, I’m no good at Scrabble.
I’ve studied French, German, and Italian and I picked up some Spanish in Mexico, none in Spain (too many bilingual states in which I never knew which language I wasn’t understanding). Please be very gentle if you strike up a conversation with me in any of those languages.
My permanent academic record shows none of the following achievements, ones I’m proud of yet almost no one knows about:
- I was the champion speller in my school in 5th grade.
- As a freshman in high school, after ten weeks of assignments, my writing teacher wrote a comment on one of my poems: “Now that’s real poetry!”
- As a sophomore in college, I skipped two weeks of physics class and rescued my grade by writing a short story about indeterminacy and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. My physics teacher was very clear about two things: I would not have passed the class but for that story, and he wanted me to meet with him to discuss submitting the story for publication.
- As a senior in college, I wrote a collection of poems for my final thesis. I wrote 10 poems a week for 5 weeks and chose the best of those to turn in. I earned “special honors in English” with a GPAs lower than typically earned honors, on the strength of that thesis.
- I am published in more than one literary journal and a book of essays under my own name as well as several pseudonyms, including P.H. Klein, Lisa, Felicia, Denise, Janet, and Leah Neuman.
- I earned an MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry, a so-called “terminal” degree that earned and lost me the same job.
So who am I to say?
I am someone who can sit down and get something written with relative ease because I’ve learned that doing the writing is much easier for me than not doing it. I can guide others over the rocky rapids of self-expression. I’m not afraid of rough drafts, rough language, or roughhousing (though I’ll do my best to turn it into contact dance).
I’m a poet and a teacher, an imperfectionist and a conversationalist.
And I’m ready to see all these things as real.
Composition note: This was more or less the idea I came up with last night that I had forgotten by this morning. When I started writing this morning, I came up with something that pushed me to my own boundary of self-revelation. In this piece, which I’m more comfortable with, I set out to write about my writing career and came out describing several of my forgotten semi-successes. There’s another piece I thought I’d be writing about how I made $15,000 in a year I only worked for 7 months at the dawn of the personal computing age, but I forgot the point as I was making notes.
Join me in my band of merry writing experimenters, entrepreneurs who are seeking ways to make the writing they have to do more enjoyable, easier, and sounding like themselves. The Creative Writing Test Kitchen, a monthlong online course, starts on July 12 and runs 5 Tuesdays. Learn more here.