The Optimist says, “Bartender, give me a double. I’m having a great day.”
The Pessimist says, “Bartender, make mine a double. I’m having an awful day.”
The Realist says, “Bartender, I’ll take a double. I …”
OH! Wait! This isn’t a joke. This is the condition of my life. My creative life. Specifically, my writing life. (Clearly I’m not a comedienne.)
The Optimist and the Pessimist are at war inside of me.
When I sat down earlier this week to write, I was upbeat, encouraged, and maybe a little over the top. Syrupy. As the week wore on I understood the struggle within. I could feel the doubt swell and expand in my chest as the Pessimist attempted to escape.
Doubt came in the form of distractions. I found myself looking for things to do other than working on my novel. Sure I wrote. Letters I’ve been putting off. Thank you cards so they would be timely. Blog posts for future dates; lined up and ready to go. I also felt the call of the TV and housework (which I hate) and new fiction to read. Anything other than sitting down to write the novel.
That’s when I knew that I wasn’t being real, not even with myself, about where I am in the writing process.
The Pessimist’s POV
The Pessimist says, “You can’t. You won’t. Why bother?”
She looks at my triumphs, my attempts; and laughs at my naïveté. Not a sweet laugh that says you’re-adorably-clueless. It’s a harsh edgy laugh that says what-are-you-thinking?
She’s not very nice to me or to anyone else for that matter. She prefers to be alone wallowing in what she considers an obvious delusion of success. She thinks she’s doing me a favor by criticizing my dream and my ability (or what she would call “lack of ability”).
The Pessimist says, “You’re not as good as so-and-so.” She tells me that progress is slow. She says I-told-you-so often. She makes me feel small.
She claims to see my writing world for what it is: A Farce.
The Optimist’s Outlook
The Optimist says, “You can. You will. Why not? Don’t listen to her.” And I want to believe her. She smiles a lot and whispers encouraging words.
She paints pictures of my success. She says, “Imagine being a sought after author or making the best sellers’ list.” She tells me I’m right on track. She lifts me up.
The Optimist says, “You’re as good, if not better than, what’s-her-name.”
She says to anyone who will listen: see-this-woman-right-here-she’s-a-writer. She praises me for sticking with it. She rewards me with words of kindness. I like the Optimist.
She tells me to hold my head high and claim my writing for what it is: A Gift.
Exactly the Same and Completely Different
Are you with me? Can you relate to my creative struggle? Whether you’re a painter or wordsmith or photographer or a creative in general, we are all faced with this internal battle.
Two opposing beliefs waging war and wreaking havoc on our confidence … Maybe you name the warring factions differently: inner cheerleader and skeptic; critic and dreamer; naysayer and yes-man; or the voices in my head.
The war is always going on.
Both the Optimist and the Pessimist want the same thing: to be in charge. But only one can rule the body and mind at any given time.
I argue that they are the same … Their differences limited to their perspectives; their approaches.
The Pessimist believes she’s being honest with me; telling me what I need to hear. The Optimist knows she’s selling me hope; telling me what I want to hear.
They’re both liars … so accept the fundamental truths they offer and move on. If the Pessimist says, “You can’t link two phrases together,” and the Optimist says, “You’re the best writer in the world,” know that the truth lies some where in between.
Neither one wants to do the hard work of writing. The Optimist is content to visualize the result. The Pessimist dismisses the possibilities.
The Realist Within
What’s the what?
The Pessimist + The Optimist = The Realist
Both the Optimist and the Pessimist live within me. I realize I need them both. True art and creation come from adversity, friction, conflict. Right?
The Pessimist keeps me grounded (sometimes buried). She reminds me to consider what can’t be. The Optimist is the one who dares to believe (sometimes blindly). She reminds me of what can be.
Their fight for control is my creative friction.
Finding balance between the Optimist and the Pessimist is where I need to be in the writing process.
Now I see that together, they give way to the Realist. The Realist sees what the Pessimist misses through negativity and the Optimist overlooks with positivity. The Realist is the negotiator.
She defines my writing as no one else can: A Complicated Joy.
The War Within will come to end … we will come to a peace agreement … that is until the next time.