Doubt, and do it anyway.

It felt good to write the other day, even if it was an impetuous and incomplete post about a new film release. But it’s so nice to press publish don’t you think?!

It does bother me, though (years after I set up my first blog with the help of Ian who I’d met two days before in a backpacker hostel in Peru): the partial, imperfect nature of blogging – or that’s how it seems to me.

One of the things I like about blogging is the regularity of writing it induces but sometimes I feel that blogging is not for me at all. I’m a ‘muser’, a ‘mull-er-over-er’. I don’t like to offer opinions or words on a whim, it makes me uncomfortable, seems irresponsible and careless somehow. And while I believe that blogging can – and should – be thoughtful and thorough and composed, I do feel that it’s impossible to offer it the same level of care and exactitude that I put into a story I’m writing or an old college essay.

Susan Sontag wrote, in her journal  (As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh): 

I write — and talk — in order to find out what I think.

But that doesn’t mean that “I” “really” “think” that. It only means that is my-thought-when-writing (or when-talking). If I’d written another day, or in another conversation, “I” might have “thought” differently.


Like many concepts, wisdoms and revelations, I love the idea of this but am less comfortable with it in practice and reality it would seem.

I talked about it with a friend a few days ago – and it’s occurred to me before – that I think it stems back to my childhood (a novel idea you say!). Yes, sorry for the cliche but, it does; bear with me.

My family were Christians, not so strict or conservative but, still, we grew up thinking such and such was right and this and that was wrong. There were beliefs that were espoused as facts: eternal, indisputable facts. This is how it was. But when I was eleven or so, our church broke-up and a community of supposedly like-minded believers were suddenly torn apart and the details and particularities of eternal facts were subject to interpretation, dispute and denial.

I’ve long since left all churches, for many reasons, and am now a kind of restless, searching, adrift, agnostic (I can’t bring myself to use the word atheist; though it occurs to me that maybe I am at times, it’s a very potent word for me – aren’t words powerful and terrifying?). I trace my cynicism and loss to these young days, when people, who so forcefully declared and sang and prayed their eternal, indisputable facts,  one day said “oh, maybe we don’t think that particular thing anymore, maybe we were wrong about this thing and, yes, that thing and this thing too…”

I was just a kid, I never knew and can’t remember all the petty, painful details. But I do know that the way I interpreted it all is that words are very powerful – people live their lives and their eternities by them – and it’s not good enough to just throw them out there in the name of truth and fact then call them back the next day.

It made me very cautious about saying what I believe in. Not that this is always a good thing – I wish that I was more convicted and forceful in my opinions sometimes, especially in real-life situations. But on the page, yes, I do like my cautiousness and reluctance to just say any old thing that pops into my head and call it a belief, a fact, a stance. I am the queen of clauses and clarifiers. It takes me forever to tell the simplest story about my day, I go off on so many tangents and “in order to understand this, well you really should know this and…”

Much like this blogpost I suppose!

And, yes, to clarify: I’m very happy to learn when I’ve been wrong about something or to change my mind and take a different point of view. That’s life. That’s normal. I have nothing against those people from the church who said “hey, you know what, maybe…” But when I don’t know something, when I’m still not sure, I try not to say anything at all until I’m fairly certain that I’ve thought and read and researched and mused and mulled it all over to the best of my, then, ability. If I learn a new thing or something is revealed to me that makes me change my mind, fine. I believe in becoming, in evolving (ha! now that’s a big leap from my childhood!).

But you can see how I can find blogging troublesome at times. I don’t have a year to sit and think about how I feel about the new Gatsby movie or the latest book I’m reading. Some things just have to be blurted out, are based upon a hunch or a feeling or a semblance of plausibility. I rail against it on the inside but it’s so nice to get words on the page, it’s so nice to press publish isn’t it?

So… I carry on. I doubt and do it anyway. And that’s writing.


5 thoughts on “Doubt, and do it anyway.

  1. Glad you did. I tend to write about my feelings all the time, rather than opinions. I’m a human, therefore eternally infallible, and though I do get self conscious about changing my thoughts/feelings like my knickers, I just kind of go ‘oh well’. I may be going to Jaipur LF next year. I’ll definitely be in India, but will have to travel from South to North for it. Do you recommend it?

  2. Hi Sarah, I absolutely recommend the Jaipur Literature Festival. I had no idea it existed before this year and feel so lucky that I was in Rajasthan at the time and could change travel plans to fit the festival. Thought I would just check out a day or two but wound up staying for the whole thing.

    If I had the money I would make the trip just for the festival every year if I could. If you’re a book lover it’s incredible – so many ‘big names’ with well-moderated and interesting discussions, debates and readings – but it’s great to just be there and people-watch and see a section of Indian ‘literati’ that you normally never encounter when travelling there.

    Very jealous you might be there but I have Wordstock to look forward to in the autumn which is one of the biggest and best in the US, but still nowhere near as great as Jaipur – one of the best in the world I’d think.

  3. Thanks Michele. I had a very wise friend when I was a teenager, the aunt of a friend of mine, Mimi. I believe everyone needs and deserves a Mimi in their life, especially when they’re young. Anyway… she said it all the time: “Feel the fear and do it anyway… Doubt and do it anyway…” That’s sort of been my life. I’ll never not be afraid I think. I try to work around it. It works… sometimes!

    I spent some time looking through your blog today. You’re a wonderful writer, so atmospheric, lyrical and thoughtful. I look forward to more!

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