On writer's block

My writer’s block stems from a deep feeling of inadequacy. Upon beginning a piece of fiction, a question relentlessly pounds in my brain: why is my story important?  

Even writing this, I feel this question stirring and bellowing within me. Out of millions of voices, why should my voice be significant? I blame my Catholic upbringing. I was raised to be humble, my ego was plied from me in every circumstance. Being the youngest, I dealt with siblings who never let my head get too big.

I always imagined my career in the literary world as such: Hemingway-esque, a career in journalism, building (or making) a significant platform for myself in the literary hierarchy, then, at an older age, launching into a career as a novelist and short story writer.

In other words, I’ve put my fiction on hold to found and edit a publication, which I love, but I also have deep feelings of inadequacy about. What makes Chicago Literati significant? And why I am I always reminded I’m fighting an uphill battle against internet and national obscurity?

What I’ve done with Chicago Literati is forged my own path. I pave the way with money from my own pocket, believing in a dream that can be tenuous and trying. I have to remind myself daily about what I’m doing, and fight to the death against the clutches of apathy and the naysayers who don’t understand and can’t fathom what I’m doing.

The greatest part of my job is during submissions cycles. Even though I am broke and penniless with this publication, whenever I come across a story that moves me, I feel far richer than any salary could make me feel (though a steady salary would be nice).

But what of my own fiction? I yearn to sit and write for hours, but my time always feels punctuated by my own insecurities. What I’ve gleaned from the sages, from those who commit themselves so completely to the craft of storytelling is this:

In the creative life, we must always give ourselves permission. We must give ourselves permission to tell our story, and we must give ourselves permission to feel our story is important, that in fact by writing it, we can touch one person. There is nothing trivial about wanting to connect with another person through the medium of storytelling, and no one person should feel inadequate or inexperienced at rising to the occasion. Storytelling is at its best when it is intimate, honest and true. I think my problem is I am a coward, I deny myself the permission to write, but my story is important, everyone’s story is.



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