Take all the monstrous fears and doubts, stuff them in a funeral bier and banish them to the Land of Nothing. The 18th-century funeral bier pictured is from the All Saints' Parish Church in Evesham, England.
Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win
by fearing to attempt.
Measure for Measure - William Shakespeare
The monster sometimes goes by the moniker of Fear;
but it prefers the name Doubt.
Its power threatens to undermine everything we do,
silence our voices and talents.
For years, Doubt left me alone, having bigger fish to fry.
But now that writing is my raison d'etre,
my strength and salvation, my hope and my future,
it stalks me like a dangerous hunter's quarry.
It lurks in the background, waiting to pounce,
laughing while cruelly reminding me I'm not so special.
Its stale perfume poisons the air until I'm intoxicated
with the elusive promise of Might-Have-Been.
Sometimes Doubt leaves me almost paralyzed,
reluctant to write a word, in case my efforts lack merit.
Doubt can counter years of hard work,
in a few dark moments of despair.
Doubt has no regard
for the self-esteem I've worked hard to build,
for the fragile illusion of faith in myself, long cultivated.
In an instant it can send my mood spiraling in freefall from Belief's dizzying heights.
Doubt's dubious authority grows in proportion to benign neglect of talent
The longer one fears to try, the more clout Doubt gains, the bigger space it fills,
until Belief is left desperately gasping for air, searching for sunlight
beneath Doubt's smothering weight.
Sometimes I succeed in banishing Doubt from my sight
but it seizes that first sign of weakness, that flush of hesitation.
Doubt is distracting, like a small child, demanding attention,
relentless in its pursuit, in its determination to interrupt creativity.
Even as I try to hide amidst flowering fields of powerful words,
Doubt selfishly urges me to abandon my quest for truth.
"Why waste time writing, when you could be washing crystal or doing laundry?
Those blank pages will be there waiting," Doubt whispers seductively in my ear.
But I have discovered little tricks to temporarily deter Doubt:
I hold on tight to inner reserves of faith and well-being.
Doubt is confused by persistence, by the simple act of writing every day
even if the phrases remain inside my head, waiting for their moment to shine.
Doubt is puzzled by open rebellion; by my refusal to be deterred.
It watches me like an especially-attentive would-be lover,
sending the wrong kind of chills shivering down my spine,
even as esperanza holds the fort.
Some claim Doubt is Fear-of-Success in disguise,
just an occupational hazard like stage fright.
Push past the Fear and you thwart Doubt:
as with all bullies, intimidated by strength and defiance.
I started writing this piece for Sunday Scribblings' prompt "The Monster" late Thursday, but Doubt kept me from finishing it until today.