Wednesday Wisdom: Doubt

The snow is still falling here in Montana. When I look outside, a yellow patio table beams like sunlight against the white-washed everything, a beacon of hope for spring, although it seems like it may take forever before we are rewarded with a hint of green.

My brain feels snowy these days, overwhelmed by the singular vision of commitment that a book-length project can bring. On Monday, I submitted a short memoir piece to Creative Nonfiction magazine for a contest with the hope that working on a new story would have inspired me with vigor. I do not expect to win. It was a goal I set in January, and I am learning how hard I am to myself when I let myself down.

Writing nonfiction brings me to desolate places. I wonder if I will ever finish my memoir, if I’m creating a cohesive narrative, if my story will resonate with the right readers, or if it will have any readers at all. Doubt is a nightly snowfall to clear away in the daylight, because underneath doubt is a narrative that brings hope to the world. Every person has a story worth telling, a life worth sharing, and withholding the hardest stories cheats the world from the truth.

At the Oscars on Sunday night, Samuel L. Jackson said, “The easiest thing to do in the world is to not write.”

This off-hand comment was the wisdom I needed to hear. Doubt was given to me by voices who didn’t agree with my message, who thought my pain should be stifled, that my voice should be silenced, that my worth shifted on a scale of obedience. Doubt was given to me by myself when I diminished my self-worth enough to believe them.

Silence is the snowfall that allows the perpetuity of abuses in relationships and society. Writing is only one of the numerous means to declare power where voice was stolen and dignity denied. I write to dispel the shame of those who seek only their humanity in a world that forbids it. Emotions are not weakness—they are fire. Sitting at my computer, when I gaze outside, I can’t help but think what a beautiful time it is to be alive.