The Questions I Struggle With

The Approaching trainWhen you are growing up there is this myth we all buy into.

When you decide your goal, that’s it. Forever. Your life is locked in, congrats and here are the keys to your future.

Oh, if life was only that simple. Like a movie where the hero figures out their destiny and we know it is going to be okay. There is no conflict there after the decision. Bruce Wayne is going to be Batman, it is his destiny.  So be it, here is the cowl, there is the Joker. Go to it!

Instead what I have found to be actually true in reality, for us non-superheroes, is that we decide every day, every hour what we want to believe is true, and what we want to hold us back.  See, I’m not this person just because it is who I am, it’s also because I chose this. There have been numerous times I could’ve changed me, my life, but I didn’t want to then, and still don’t want to. The option is always there, it doesn’t go away. Frankly, most of the time, I like being me.

Yet, I still battle four thoughts, four burning questions almost every day. They can hold me back, make me question everything I have done in my life (from being a writer to a father to a husband to a human being), and sap all the energy from my system. It is not always easy to take them on, and sometimes I do lose, but they are always there. And I don’t see it ever changing.

Did I do enough?

This one haunts me the most on a daily basis. I can’t escape it.  Sometimes I feel so very defeatist, because of this question. I’m not living to my full potential. Like this is a game and I don’t have enough points, could never have enough points to win.

On the days I lose to this question, I become a worthless individual. Maybe others can’t see it but I can, and I just don’t see it, I feel it. I feel it on my skin, in my soul. It’s like the feeling after exercising that I need to be cleaned but with water and soap scrubbed down to my very bones , but I can’t do it… Does that make sense?

We are all only on this planet for a short time and I want to make a mark, I always wanted to. Yes, I want to be a good person, a good dad, for example, but it never feels enough.

As a novelist this challenges me and also hinders me. I want to write more but I also question everything I do. And as a writer I go to bed each night wondering if there is more I could’ve done that day to build my writing career, help people discover my books.  It is a constant, constant struggle; and, to be honest, I’m sure it will be on me for the rest of my life, even if my books jump to the bestseller lists.

So, overall, I’ m always somewhere between I’m damned if I do and… what is the point?

Am I really good enough?

I have this image of myself in my head and he is not always the person in the reflection.

Even Superman writes!Maybe it is the superego/ego thing, but it’s not like he is much better than me, that smiling person on the back cover of a book or in the mirror. He is more confident, more impressive, sure. And I can be him from time to time, and those moments are glorious. But is that me? A part of me? Or just a dream I was able to accomplish that day?

If that is what I am aiming for, then who am I on most days? My in-between moments, the weekends where I am just home with the family? I seem to exist most days between the “funk” Scott and the “super” Scott. The problem is as a writer I can’t create or feel inspired to create if I am not reaching my “super” potential.

I wrote a post once about the delusions writers need to have to create and to keep going (which you can read here) and it is very true for me. Also, since I have thought of myself as a writer for so long, when I question my material and my next projects it affects my entire being.

Maybe this is a mid-life crisis thing, but I have noticed that the older I get, the less I am able to keep myself easily in check. I seem to go up and down in emotions,  Not in a way that needs medication, but in a way that is enough that I notice, leaving me feeling inspired or just blah.

I hate feeling blah.

What is true and what am I only just choosing to believe?

Last year I has my twentieth reunion from high school. 20 freaking years!, and the second I walked through those doors, it was a time jump in so many ways. Yes, it was great to see some old friends again. But it also made me think of perceptions as old cliques fell back into place.

There have been enough movies and books on the experience of reunions like this, and they are so very accurate when you go through it. But it did make me really question myself as I looked at people as if they were the same as they were then. It was unfair of me, truly it was, but I was sure they were doing it to me as well.

So when this questions haunts me, like the “good enough” question above, I wonder about the truth of myself, of my life.

My blog and my books help me to take on this question a lot. A good review can shut this question up for days, or if I get a nice comment on a blog post I can step away and move on. Yes, of all of the questions that hinder me as an individual this is the one I can beat back from time to time; heck, with the right circumstances it could go away forever.

Whatever the case, I don’t think I am attending any high school reunions again in the future.

What can I have control over?

When I went to college for my MFA at the University of Southern California, my original goal was in writing for film. I went with a pile of screenplays under my arms, and I left with a degree and more screenplays in tow. The problem is nothing changed in the aftermath.

That is not the school’s fault. It is a great program and I am glad I went, it’s the nature of the industry, because  a lot of decisions are still made by who knows who. And with the ever-increasing budget for films, most writers need to think of the indie market first. Sadly, I think as time goes on, the film industry will need less and less writers.

Whatever the case, I don’t live in LA anymore and I am focusing on my books, but it doesn’t change the fact I have these scripts, and I think of them. I’m always getting ideas for scripts! Many of my finished scripts haunt me like these questions, knowing in my heart they are damn good. Today, most of them live under my bed, wrapped in plastic, waiting for that moment when someone asks, “So do you have any screenplays?”

“Yes,” I will say, holding back a smile, “Yes, I do.”

This question though is more than about my books, it is also about my relationships in my life. And I walk a line each day deciding how much control I need or want over a situation, and also accepting when I have no control at all.

One thing I am guilty of is that whenever my wife tells me about something going on, I always try to solve it. She is pretty good at laughing at me when I do this… but I still do it. I want to fix everything, and feel there is a solution with just enough thought.

Maybe this is the “narrator” thing in me. The guy who wants to tell the story… Possibly.

This year my son started Kindergarten and his school likes the parents to drop the kids off from their cars at the front.

Now, I know my son is five and he will be fine and it is a good school. But there is this moment, each day, after I put the backpack on him and he starts to walk away that most of these questions hit me like a ton of bricks. He looks so young then, my little boy, and his life is truly beginning.

…And then when I am driving away, I will usually turn my car radio off and wonder.

A Jane Austen DaydreamIf you liked reading this post, why not check out one of my books? I’ve had four novels published in the last few years, A Jane Austen DaydreamMaximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous DareMy Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here, or as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!

Need an editor? Dream of finishing that book but need some help? Learn about my editing services by visiting this page on my site. Or you can contact Rebecca T. Dickson and request to work with me by clicking the image below.

Rebecca T. Dickson, Editor

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14 responses

  1. i have this thing I call the perspective age of four. for the longest time i’ve looked back on my life and for some reason decided life was best at 4. in my head I was happiest then. life was all zelda and slurpees. I had no responsibility. I was at the top of my game. and I knew which big kids and which adults were cool.

    so now that I am one of those old dudes I bust out the proverbial time machine and I go back and take the toddlers test. and it doesn’t matter if that narcissistic nirvana was ever actually real or not because if that figment me would think I’m cool, if his impecable judge of character would smile and trust me, then I pass.

    so could I have done more writing last night instead of spending all my time on steam and reddit and stuff, yes. and would my four year old self be disappointed in me, yes. but then he’d be all, “its ok, lets go get some candy and play nintendo,” because I really think he knows what life is all about.

      • i try to listen to an audiobook every time i play one of those games, because then i’m being productive right?

        but i guess what i’m trying to say here is me too, man, me too.
        as a writer i’m right there with ya. i recently had one of those metal fits, where all this writing and querying and such didn’t feel worth it. its such a roller coaster. then there were two movies that helped put it into perspective. Oz, and cloud atlas. i felt like i identified with Oz so much. and then cloud atlas, it’s the stories we tell that move through time. we can build buildings or whatever, we can leave our mark on the world but what is really timeless is offering perspective to others, forever, in stories. it’s the kid in me that gets that.

        i dropped out of college to be a novelist…smart move i know. i don’t blog much, and i don’t think i could handle the whole self publishing thing. i think its awesome you’re doing all you’re doing.

        so, i’d answer your questions as yes, yes, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. and it doesn’t matter of those are accurate answers either.

  2. It’s a mid-life crisis, Scott. You hit 40 and every day after you wonder if you’ve done enough to succeed (whatever your interpretation of that is, or course!) I’m almost done with your “…Dangerous Dare” book and I can reassure you, sir, that you do have talent. But you know that. Still, it’s easy to doubt yourself and wonder if you’re on the right path. I think everyone questions their life, good or bad, and how much input they really had in making it what it is.

    • Thanks! Mid-life crisis, eh? The funny thing is I’m planning to get a minivan not a convertible. I need to work on this. LOL.

      And I’m glad you are digging that book. It seems to be an acquired taste for some readers (as compared to A Jane Austen Daydream). Personally, it is one of my faves and so much fun to write.

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