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How my new (and confused) identity negatively affects my ability to work


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Who I was, who I am now, and who I'm becoming is integral to my work—my writing. And while it's given me some new and unique themes and voices in which to write, I've lost my sense of confidence. A lack of confidence is not helpful in moving ahead with my project. For myself, I'm going ahead with therapy, group therapy, peer group hang-outs, and now even picnics, but none of it helps me with confidence. Yet. Perhaps I just need more time? Oh? I hope not too much time because I feel like I'm getting too old. The project I'm working on now is all about the identity I never had because it was suppressed. I'm used to having control over my subject, but I've lost that. Perhaps this project is meant to be produced as if on the edge of a cliff where each step could be a deadly fall or a means to gain wings to fly. Maybe that's how it's meant to be. Perhaps. No one says I have to feel comfortable taking on a project like this. But I really have no choice it seems. It's a do-or-die subject for me—obsessively so. Are there any writers out there who have felt this? For now I'm going to pretend, at least, that confidence is not necessary, that I'll have to fly on "Pretend Wings" completely (and out-of-control with) my muse's voice. Perhaps she knows the "everything" that I don't.

Please, Pixie, bring me home! Give me wings! Give me voice! Confidence or not, let me at least walk, stepping forwards and not backwards. Give me wings!

 

Thanks for letting me rant. Hugs.

— Davie

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1 hour ago, Davie said:

The project I'm working on now is all about the identity I never had because it was suppressed. I'm used to having control over my subject, but I've lost that.

Davie, This project of yours sounds like an interesting one, for sure. Is the focus on the development and/or search for your identity? It makes sense that this confidence issue is due in large part because of the growing acceptance of your true identity. I think most of us have some of that during this process. There’s a lot of mental, social and perspective changes happening along the way. I think it’s uncommon not to feel less secure as you release the suppression slowly over time but it’s critical to your search for self.

 

It seems to me that you have complete control over this subject despite feeling less confident about it or where it is taking you. You’ve identified a problem (lack of confidence) but are still moving forward despite the temporary fear it may cause. When you work through a instance of fear, you may gain a little more confidence. You’re learning more about who you really are and allowing your true identity to slowly emerge and be incorporated into your life, as well. That will undoubtedly help you overcome and gain confidence. Give yourself more time and credit and I’m sure you’ll get to your destination before you know it.

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Thanks so much @Susan RSupport like this is special. It helps me accept just whatever happens in the process, no matter how strange it seems at the time. Perhaps my characters are as confused as I am? Now that makes sense—maybe I don't need any god-like hero to explain the story. As of yesterday, we find most of the universe is a mystery, so why shouldn't I expect my little story to also have clouds of plasma? I do wish we had a Webb telescope into the human soul, but that'll have to wait, wait as well as my final paragraph will.

I wish patience and persistence for us all.

— Davie

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I write, not professionally, I've never made a cent off of my writing.  It's something I'm compelled to do for my own (in)sanity.

 

I find that in my life it is useless to try to completely define myself.  I constantly change, and still remain the same.  I have to constantly move forward without really being able to explain myself - even to myself.  Life is confusing at best.  I don't want to be like that centipede trying to figure out how it walks.

 

My characters tend to reflect this confusion in their lives, always moving toward an unknown destination - often without real closure.  And sometimes they find it.

 

Me… I just live with the unknown.  It's an adventure.

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I already have identity issues, so I find that I try to escape my brain and create characters that are so different from one another. Granted, I should've known I was transmasculine when I noticed most of my characters were male...lol.

 

A running theme with my characters, however, is being held back. Something is holding them back from being themselves. Whether it be fear, society, etc. For example, one character is gender neutral, but is constantly being misgendered (they were born male). They're out to their friends, but their friends do not understand. Another example, a character of mine (a cisgender man) is secretly bisexual. But he doesn't want to come out because he's so horribly in denial of who he is.

 

Like you, this theme resonates with me because I always feel held back in life. The characters may not be 100% like me, but their problems are so much like home to me.

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1 hour ago, NashySlashy said:

The characters may not be 100% like me, but their problems are so much like home to me.

I think when you write you are often exploring your self, and even parts that you don't want to admit are there.

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What a great group of responses!

This is like coming out all over again in a new identity. I didn't realize I was not alone in my feelings until I read these responses—and I didn't realize how helpful it is to have such sisters and brothers of the pen. Thank you all so much for sharing, but feel free to add more. Maybe there should be a special gender-type assignment for us, but I hesitate to venture any label. Now back to the manuscript with bells on!

love,

Davie

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It’s very late here in Oz but I’ll just say this: I completely relate, @Davie. I too have been writing a chaotic knife-edge memoir-novel-thing about the question of my identity in real time as it (my identity) unfolds. And there are precedents. Probably there are trans precedents, but I don’t know them. I found the cis male writer Karl Ove Knausgaard instructional, since he really writes close to the bone. “Chelsea Girls”, by queer non-binary writer Eileen Myles, also inspired me.

 

Anyway as I said, late.

 

You’re on the right track!

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Ok, it’s morning, and what I neglected to say last night was this: I <b>like</> that out-of-control aspect you speak of. Increasingly it is what I look for in writing. And I actually suspect, at a point like this in history where the world seems to be spinning ever more dizzyingly out of control, that anything less is dishonest. Add in a dose of the radical upheaval that comes with transitioning, and it seems only fitting if the very form in which you’re writing — and not just the characters contained within it — is unstable. 

 

I guess, though, that much of this comes down to a professional question. From an artistic standpoint it seems clear to me you’re doing important work, but what will your publisher think? Since I haven’t published a novel in 20 years I can’t help you there. I do believe the world needs more writers who embrace uncertainty though. Hell, it needs more <b>people</> who embrace uncertainty, period.

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Oh gosh, I muddled up my HTML twice! Apologies. I hate typing on my phone

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Thanks @Betty K

2 hours ago, Betty K said:

I like that out-of-control aspect you speak of. Increasingly it is what I look for in writing. And I actually suspect, at a point like this in history where the world seems to be spinning ever more dizzyingly out of control, that anything less is dishonest. Add in a dose of the radical upheaval that comes with transitioning, and it seems only fitting if the very form in which you’re writing — and not just the characters contained within it — is unstable. 

Yes, I agree. I'm already headed that way—off a cliff or not. It'll be scary, but that's all right. It'll be unique, but that's all right, too. It'll also house episodes within an epistolary series of notebook entries that will allow the readership to provide some of their own structure. Off a cliff — with wings on.

— Davie

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Can I just say how fantastic it is to know there are so many writers and other creatives here? 😊

 

It sounds like you’ve found your wings, David, and that’s wonderful!

I think those creative wings tend to come and go—we soar when they come to us, and we just have to scrabble along as best we can when they evaporate for a time. The waxing and waning of confidence seems to be a critical part of being a writer or artist.

I’m a cartoonist, illustrator and writer. When I’m having a good day, I think I’m reasonably good at what I do. And over the past decade, it’s felt like those good days come fewer and farther between. I’ve lost a lot of my confidence. A good friend of mine who’s also an artist reminded me to “look at the data”—look at what you’ve accomplished before, look at the good things you’ve created in the past, and know it’s evidence you can do it again. I watched a video I’d recorded of myself drawing a comic strip from back in 2011 or 2012, and it was long enough ago that it was almost like watching somebody else at work. And I had to admit to myself “that was pretty good. I guess I do know what I’m doing sometimes.” 😅

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2 hours ago, Zelaire said:

Can I just say how fantastic it is to know there are so many writers and other creatives here? 😊

 

It sounds like you’ve found your wings, David, and that’s wonderful!

I think those creative wings tend to come and go—we soar when they come to us, and we just have to scrabble along as best we can when they evaporate for a time. The waxing and waning of confidence seems to be a critical part of being a writer or artist.

I’m a cartoonist, illustrator and writer. When I’m having a good day, I think I’m reasonably good at what I do. And over the past decade, it’s felt like those good days come fewer and farther between. I’ve lost a lot of my confidence. A good friend of mine who’s also an artist reminded me to “look at the data”—look at what you’ve accomplished before, look at the good things you’ve created in the past, and know it’s evidence you can do it again. I watched a video I’d recorded of myself drawing a comic strip from back in 2011 or 2012, and it was long enough ago that it was almost like watching somebody else at work. And I had to admit to myself “that was pretty good. I guess I do know what I’m doing sometimes.” 😅

Thanks so much@ZelaireYes, I'm glad I posted this and found so many other writers here with similar issues.

Please call me Davie.

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10 hours ago, Davie said:

Yes, I agree. I'm already headed that way—off a cliff or not. It'll be scary, but that's all right. It'll be unique, but that's all right, too. It'll also house episodes within an epistolary series of notebook entries that will allow the readership to provide some of their own structure. Off a cliff — with wings on.

— Davie

 

Sounds fantastic, just up my alley. But don’t be coy: unique is better than just all right. Unique is what art is all about!

 

I wish you Godspeed in those wings of yours Davie, and I’d be very curious to read the results one day.

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Thank you @Betty KYou too.

"The results one day" will be in nine months or so for this project. 

— Davie

 

PS: My profile has a Substack address to find some of my writing.  

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1 hour ago, Davie said:

PS: My profile has a Substack address to find some of my writing.  

 

Oh cool, thanks! I’ll take a look.

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And this morning's writing goes . . . Great! Best in months. So much of what I hated in my own writing was what I hated in my own self it seems. Self hatred and trans folks? Duh. It happens. Happens to me. So it seems that pretend confidence is just as good as real confidence.

I know the world carries a lot of dissonance and pain, but confidence in my own creative spirit, my own non-gendered spirit lives here, too. And it springs forth alive when I call it in—whenever I invoke it, or beg for it to help me with enough persistance. It can help any of us in the same way. It's only the clicking together of the heels of my magic slippers in my mind, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, that envokes it for me.

Call me Muse Alive, if you'd like, because she is. Alive.

cheers,

Davie

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So sorry about your name, Davie! For what it’s worth, it was auto-correct. 😧 (Just did it again, but I caught it this time.)

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2 hours ago, Zelaire said:

So sorry about your name, Davie! For what it’s worth, it was auto-correct. 😧 (Just did it again, but I caught it this time.)

No problem @ZelaireI myself switch back and forth between the two, auto-correct or not. Some people simply refuse to stay in their own lane, you know? If I can love both sides of meself, what's the worry, eh? And I do love all you TGPulse folks.

— David / Davie

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@Zelaire I forgot to say, Comics! Cool! And it sounds like maybe you’re attaining a beginner’s mind: you know enough to know what you don’t know. Sounds like a good thing to me.

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Right. An epigram to that idea:


"The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.” —Andre Gides

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Guess I get a lot of Prompts then.

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I think that sounds about right! Creative folks tend to see things differently than others, which I suppose is one definition of madness. 😉

Thanks, btw, @Betty K! A beginner's mind is so important, but can be hard to keep.

Which also reminds me of a quote from Stephen King... When asked why he writes what he does, he replied: "...I have the heart of a small boy—and I keep it in a jar on my desk." 🤪

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