Monday, November 24, 2014

A Thanks for Fewer Voices

By Rich

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. 


Patricia Stoltey said...

Good post, Rich. The voices in my head are a cacophony of story ideas, reminders to do this and that, fears and worries, and that nagging voice that says I should be writing. If that's my Muse, then she's a nag.

Can't wait to read Santa is a Stalker!

Abbie Taylor said...

When we were kids, my brother once told me my brain was the size of a pea. He has since apologized, and I forgive him. I hope the same has happened with your brother and wish you continued success in your endeavors.

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Lynn said...

I have a number of voices in my head, but I've learned to differentiate the fear-based one (I call it Me-go, since it's all about me) from the creative murmurs. My standard response to Me-go is: "Whatever!" Funny thing is, the more I write, the quieter Me-go gets. He pipes up louder when I'm not writing. Good motivation to write!

Shirley Drew said...

I don't have too many voices in my head. But sometimes the negative ones visit--usually not for long. I BANISH them! Which is easier to do than it used to be, thankfully.

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