is the thought that goes through my head when I look to the past, especially when it comes to my writing.
Maybe it’s a version of impostor syndrome. Maybe it’s performance anxiety, in which it’s easy to think the worst about one’s own work. Maybe it’s…
Well. It probably owes to many factors. But creatives are saddled with the cliche of uncertainty about the worth, goodness, and success of their own work, because the cliche is (as far as I can tell) overwhelmingly true. The main way I’ve seen out of it is to adopt a Kanye-level ego and self-absorption, and screw that, I’d rather be unsure.
But back to me (no ego here; I’m so modest!).
I chose the rail junction image because I’m a person who always sees alternate paths. I see the future as a hugely ramified maze of paths — which is of course where I draw stories from and why my stories tend to be clustered within a century or two of the present. I see the past the same way, and spend too much time wondering at what might have been or even regretting the paths I’ve chosen. And that regret is sometimes rightful — what if I’d never wasted so many years in alcohol dependency and self-hate? But that’s unproductive and I try to look at it, evaluate it, acknowledge any lessons that might be present, and quickly retire it. And I work with a couple of mental health professionals to help me be better at that, because I’ve historically kinda sucked at it.
So of course I also wonder what could have been if I’d talked to some professionals ten years ago, or twenty, or thirty-five. Hmm.
See what I mean?
The present is the same way. Endless potential paths. I have a nasty tendency to want to travel all of them, and getting stuck like the proverbial ass trapped between two equally attractive bales of hay.
And so, all of the above in mind, I want to continue to build on my past writing… but also, every few weeks, I get the urge to cut ties with my past writing (oh, it could have been better, boo-hoo, you get the picture) and dream up a catchy pseudonym because S.A. Barton isn’t flashy and also conflicts with the much-more-search-engine-present and popular Beverly Barton. And sometimes even the hideous zealot-ideologue revisionist fake-historian David Barton, who I wish I didn’t share a last name with.
Look, I know keeping the name I’ve kept for six years is the better choice. But for me, it’s difficult not to agonize a little over what might have been. What if I’d chosen a “better” nom de plume?
(This post appeared on my Patreon page first, ten days before it appeared here. If you become a patron, you can see stuff early too!)