The Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962


In the Facebook group, I co-moderate, one of my associates posts a quote and asks the group, “How was your writing today?” Sometimes, when she has other commitments, she asks me to post the daily quote. I actually enjoy finding ones that resonate as well as finding an image to go with it.

Today I found one by Sylvia Plath, who wrote in her journal:

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

I’m not a Sylvia Plath fan, probably because I don’t like that she’s become this cult figure among angsty and neurotic women. I know that isn’t fair, but her quote struck a chord. I’ve been having a lot of self-doubts about the WIP. I’m in bed at night, trying to figure out the logic, and I still find that I’ve written myself into a corner. Plus, some feedback from a few months ago, which was on target, just made me crash into a very dense, steel-reinforced and plated wall. But there’s more—all the elements of story from characterization to dialogue to plotting to sentence structure has made me question whether I have a story to tell and whether I can pull it off.

Why this sudden worry? I recently finished writing a series of Scrivener classes and used the WIP as an example of how I organized a writing project, and in some of the examples I used I reread what I wrote. I wasn’t happy. The dialogue was stiff, the characters flatter and thinner than a sheet of onion paper. Too much detail that didn’t matter; a plot that isn’t going anywhere. And the overall writing, and this is the best way I can describe it: immature. Good for a high-school student, but not for someone who has worked on this for far too long.

Am I being too hard on myself? Maybe, but maybe not. November will mark the seventh anniversary of when I started this book. There have been periods that I put it aside and other times where I was writing and revising like a woman with cancer that was killing her.  Now that “cancer” is in remission, so to speak, the manuscript is sitting and I don’t see it as viable. Perhaps that’s the cancer. A story that no matter how many nfusions of chemo or blasts of radiation you administer, it doesn’t shrink, but grows into a bigger mess. This, of course, leads me to question whether I actually have a book in me? As you can see, Sylvia’s two sentence quote has opened a can of worms. Yes, there’s self-doubt, but there’s also recognizing that if I want some facet of this story to catch the light and sparkle, I have to set aside the self-doubt, along with the daily interruptions (hear that Ol’ Man, dogs, social media) and write, and improve, and get stronger, and mature.

As part of this process in growing my writing practice, I hope to be here on a regular basis. To address writing issues via daily quotes. Obviously it’s not a new technique for inspiration, but whenever I’m asked to find a quote, I’m inspired to share something and write about it, but it also encourages me that maybe the story can be saved. It might not be the one I think I want to tell, but perhaps a little gem has been hiding and all  I need is to dig a little more to unearth it.