Originally published on New West Writers
The writing demon is with me always. From the security of her perch on my shoulder, she sporadically rouses from hibernation to taunt me with grand ideas and inspiration. “Come on, Joanne. Give it a go. You can do it.” And in that moment, I believe her.
Inevitably, each and every tidbit of fiendish encouragement and support is rapidly reversed. “Stop, stop, Joanne, stop! What were you thinking?” And in that moment, I believe her.
For most of my life, stories germinated in my head, became tender sprouts upon blank pages where they withered and died under a fiendish drape of anxiety and self-doubt. With no faith in my own creative voice, I chose to explore the field of editing in my spare time. Every time I studied SFU’s Continuing Education Catalogue for the next course, my eye was uncontrollably drawn to the side-bar promoting The Writer’s Studio, provoking the imp. “Maybe, Joanne. You should try. No way – are you crazy, woman?”
In the spring of 2012, a different class caught my eye on the calendar’s list of possibilities. August offered a week-long intensive called Write, Write, Write. I couldn’t get it out of my head. My scoundrel and I battled wholeheartedly for a couple of weeks over the possibility of submerging myself in a world of writing for an entire week. “Yes, you can. A whole week? I don’t know, Joanne.” Hmm. “Just a week. It’s just a week, damn it.” I’d had enough. In an impulsive act of assertion, I gagged my resident meddler and signed up for five continuous days of I knew not what.
The first day I panicked and heard the demon’s whisper. “You’ll not last the week,” she hissed. I replaced her muzzle and dove into a world of self-enlightenment. I wrote stories and read them out loud. I listened to stories and was amazed. I laughed. I cried. I rejoiced. By Friday’s end, the urchin could barely raise her head when I declared “This is how I want to live my life.”
Come September, I actively sought information on The Writers’ Studio and devoted the hours, days, and weeks necessary to prepare my application and submit it by the October 31st deadline. When the call came informing me of my acceptance to TWS 2013, I was consumed by elation and fear, a volatile combination certain to stir the sleeping tyrant. But I was ready to let TWS change my life.
Change my life it did. I gained a firm belief in myself and now trust my instincts to write. My biggest success as a writer is finding the courage to face and subdue the demon on my shoulder. She will always be there, I know that. But now, I am more than halfway through my first novel and when my tormentor’s objections threaten to hinder my progress, I assert my confidence and power on. She can’t stop me now.