I may have mentioned this before -- my younger brother wasn't the nicest person when we were kids. One time, when walking home from middle school, one of his 6th grade friends asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. In a mature 8th grade voice I said I was going to be a writer.
"Yeah," my brother started. "He's going to write Space in the Head: An autobiography by Rich Keller."
On one hand, his statement stung, to the point it still resounds in my memory. On the other hand, my brother was way off track. I had plenty in my head at the time, besides the usual early-teen thoughts of female classmates. There were voices of fear, doubt, guilt, self-condemnation, and general exasperation that I would never become a successful writer.
These voices continued for decades. Some came from the continual berating and speeches of disappointment from various family members. Others came from what I would later find out was depression (something we've discussed before). An innocuous phrase from someone, the lack of a phone call from another, or a situation gone awry would start the internal meeting of negative voices in my head. And all of of them tried to out-shout each other to be heard. They would even prod me in times where quiet was necessary, such as silent prayer or meditation.
Heck, no wonder I wasn't a productive writer! Each time I would internally set a goal the voices would come around, say "Um, wait a minute there ...," and shut me down while other worried voices added to the chorus. It made me grumpy, bitter, and fearful I wasn't good at a darn thing.
Today, thanks to a medicine and therapy, it's much different, and I've begun to really notice it. Recently I've stopped what I was working on and listened. Plenty of external sounds, but in my head there was deep quiet. And you know what, it feels great!
This is why this year I confidently started my publishing company, produced so much written material, and put this column together in about ten minutes. I still have voices in my head -- mostly the characters in my stories. However, sometimes the voice of doubt or common sense will pop up to tell me not to post an anti-government, Duck Dynasty-hating comment on a discussion board or tell my wife her new jeans do make her look fat.
So, this Thanksgiving, I give thanks to the bad voices which decided to vacate my head. I don't miss you, and I truly hope that you don't come back. The place is more spacious without you.
What voices do you have in your head?
Self-promotion alert: Just in time for the Thanksmaskwanukah holiday comes my latest eBook, Santa is a Stalker! And other modern holiday stories. It'll be available on Black Friday, November 28, via Amazon.