Tag Archives: Humber School for Writers

Trust, that elusive animal, or Humber, week two


It’s coming up to the point of no return. Today is the last day I can withdraw from Humber’s School for Writers with no fee penalty.

I have to admit it’s looming large in my head. Not that there’s anything wrong with the program, and I am lucky lucky to have a mentor who I love reading and who has, I believe, a similarly twisted sense of humour to mine.

But I’m afraid. I’m afraid of letting myself down, I’m afraid of failing again, I’m afraid of starting something that I might be going to fail.

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And I’m SO good at NOT writing. I find it very easy to doubt myself, my ability to stick to anything, to see a project to completion. My lifetime script has been that I am an initiator, not a finisher. But that’s not strictly true, I know, if I think back. But I still don’t trust myself. And on the other side, I hate when I don’t try something out of fear.

Not sure where my messed up self comes from, don’t have time to dig deep enough into my psyche to figure it out today, but I know it’s there, like a big rock in the middle of the stream.

It’s not just me I don’t trust. I could list the names of trustworthy types I feel I know on the fingers of both hands (on a bad day, just one). Like Nova Scotia weather, you can come to rely upon a sunny day only to find rain driving into your face. I’ve become a cynic, not totally by myself, but with some considerable help. And fog.

But, when you have trouble trusting others, and you can’t trust yourself, either, it gets pretty murky out there. I have to start somewhere.

Maybe I should take a page from Neil Gaiman, another favourite author.

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Grumpy grumpy grumpy ghosts, or muses in disguise?


As the start date for my Humber course creeps closer, I can feel my old ghosts moving in, settling down, taking up their knitting, kicking off their shoes. Making themselves comfortable.
Which ghosts?
The ones who say:
“You never finish anything.”
“You’re a jack of all trades, a master of none.”
“There’s nothing worse than a dilettante.”
“Why do you want to push yourself? You’re sick. Take it easy.”

Argh, I say, waving my arms about, disturbing their spectres until they get annoyed in turn, hide my pens, make my computer go cranky, get the cat to leave hair balls in the hallway.
Eventually they wander off for a bit, but they come back, whisper in my ear, “you know, you don’t REALLY have what it takes, right?”

We all have those voices. For some reason they are always louder and more persistent than the voices telling us how wonderful we are. Or maybe that’s just me?

I’m sure I exhaust my friends, who aim to reassure me, but these ghosts have lived with me since grade one, when substitute teacher Mrs. Morabito put tape over my mouth for daring to say I had already read the assigned book, and I was in an advanced reading group. She told me off for thinking I was better than anyone else. Since then, any time I feel I am good at anything, I put tape over my mouth and send myself into the hallway as punishment for getting too full of myself. Or I screw myself up, so I can never feel successful.

For this reason, I remember none of the words of fondness (were there any?) of my first boyfriend, but I remember him telling me not to interrupt his important discussion. I recall my English teacher telling me the story I wrote for my parents was derivative and awful (though they liked it, and that was the important thing). I remember my failures as a manager, forget the good things I did. I forget, unless I deliberately dig them out, the positive words on my various submissions to contests, the publications I racked up, the good things I’ve done, the creative mind I have that comes out to play.

So, I’m stressing out. Part of me feels I should already know all this course is going to teach me, because I’ve taken a lot of courses by this point and know a lot of the how, though I don’t always apply it.

Part of me wants to give up on this challenge, do something else instead, chicken out, back away from the hard work it will involve.

Part of me mutters, but you are no good at editing, you can’t ever finish things off properly, you are so slapdash and careless….you never TRY HARD ENOUGH.

Ah, there’s the big one. I knew she’d speak up soon. The old “you’re lazy” ghost.

Gawd, I hate her. She’s made me work to the point of breakdown, pushed me to exhaustion, forced me to do all sorts of insane things. She makes me DO stuff. Gawd, I love her.

One more time, I call to her, sitting as she is, arms crossed, face knotted in disdain. Push me one more time. You can stay.

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Counting down


When I was in nursing school, almost at the end, my roommate and I hung a little tablet of post-it’s on the wall, marked with numbers, and tore one off every day until we got to ZERO!!!!!!! (Remember PP?)

When I was expecting my babies, I counted days down, eager to see their faces, meet them at last.

But now, as a grow up, I seem to have lots of countdowns going on simultaneously.

10 days til my course with Humber starts.

26 days until my next trip to Toronto.

47 days til I go to a cottage.

9 days til I go to my next meeting of the Halifax Ukulele Gang.

21 days til the Blue Nose marathon

Month and a bit til the MS walk…

Everything is exciting and something to look forward to, she says, splitting up her sentences in a way she will be unable to soon…

But my brain is crowded with conflicting priorities and thrills and spills. Time to focus.

Once Humber starts, I’m restricting my FB time to rare occasions as rewards for finishing goals. I’ll be writing my experiences with the course here, in case anyone is interested. I’ll be slowing down email responses and trying to check only 3 times a day – morning, noon, and night.

So forgive me if I seem absent… Just trying to push my brain into a focused box. It doesn’t fit as well as my cat does. (He’s been living in that box since it arrived a few days ago).

Wish me luck!

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