• Benita Garvin

YOU - OR THEM?

There will always be a better writer, a smarter writer, a more successful writer, a funnier writer a more eloquent writer, etc. SO WHAT??!!


When you embrace that reality, you can stop seeing it as a competition. You own what is original and unique to you. NOBODY is you. Even if we have the identical experiences, we’re not going to interpret it or even feel it in the same way. The ONLY thing you have going for you is your individual way of interpreting the world around you.


I hear my Storytelling Lab students at the outset of my classes express their doubts. They’re the smartest, most evolved women on earth, and they wonder if they have something to say! They have lots to say. And, fortunately, are now starting to say it! Are there better writers than them? There are definitely a lot better writers than me. WHO THE HELL CARES? Is it a competition? Either you’re writing for you or you’re writing for them. The faceless masses. Or your parents? Or whomever. Will approval from strangers change the way you see yourself? Unlikely. I know because I thought the same thing. I got a lot of approval. It changed nothing. I needed therapy for that!!!



As women, we find the time to accommodate everyone’s need but our own. We categorize something like writing (or paintings or learning an instrument) as selfish. Narcissistic, even. Our husbands, lovers, children, parents, friends, co-workers need us! Why the hell are we doing something as self-indulgent as writing! Will it bring in MONEY?!!!! That’s the critical metric, after all.


Is it your goal to be the greatest writer of all time? While an aspirational goal, what does it mean? It sounds like a lot of pressure. One of the greatest pleasures of writing is your personal growth. Writing is about process. The process is about the craft. I liken it to painting, which I took up some years ago. Creating the painting is the best part. Once it’s complete, I hang it on a wall or, if lucky, sell it. But the joy of creating it is over. It’s the same with writing. If you embrace and revel in process, whatever happens next is icing on the cake. While a HUGE proponent of icing, when you add cake, it takes on an entirely new dimension.


If you fanatasize writing, then ask yourself what stops you. Time, family, work, take out those excuses. Because they are excuses. You'd have nothing to write about if you sat home all day with nothing but time (and zero responsiblities) to write! You'd be Proust and somebody beat you to it! It's about feeling entitled to write. Believing you have something to say and then saying it. Something that you'll willing to commit to paper as well as words.


Would it be different if you were a man? I don't know the answer, I'm just asking the question!





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