We all want the guarantee. We want the iron-clad, double-your-money-back, lifetime, no-questions-asked sworn promise: The relationship will endure; the kids will turn out okay; the job will work; the martial art will be there when you call it; they will discover a cure for everything in time to let you be functional for eternity, and you'll live happily ever after ...
We know better. But living with the option -- it's all built on sand and all flesh is eventually grass is kind of hard to think about too much without getting depressed.
So, as best we can, we hedge our bets. Can't control it, but maybe we can improve our odds.
Insecurity is a bear with long claws and big teeth, though.
I believe that life offers you the lessons you need to become as much as you can be. Not always easy and sometimes painful, but you get the choice. (Which is the only reason I can see why those of us who are control-freaks go into the arts, especially as freelancers. Surely that's a big one, letting go of that control ...)
All the artists I know of any discipline suffer to a degree from a worry that one day the art police are going to knock on the door and tell them that the jig is up. Party's over, dude -- you got to go out and get a real job now.
How do you get past that? Well. In my experience, you never do. You learn to live with it.
This happens often enough so it's a real worry: The eyes might go, the hands, the ears; Muse might wander off, and you come up dry. No more images, no more roles, no more songs, no more words. Fashions change, the Fickle Publick turns away, and you are done ...
What brings this up, Steve? you wonder?
I shipped a book to my agent before the holidays and she read it and wanted some changes. She's a bright, talented woman, I value her opinion, and we get on well, but -- I'm not going to make those changes unless an editor who is paying me asks, or everybody and his kid sister rejects the novel.
Because it's the story I wanted to tell.
Anybody who is even a little bit self-aware knows that the Pit of Insecurity within us can never be filled. Not enough shovels, not enough sand, the hole at the bottom goes all the way to the center of the Earth. We want that approbation -- but we know that even if we get it, it's only a matter of time until the fill starts to trickle away, and pretty soon, the pit is empty again.
None of us is infallible, certainly not me, but at some point, second-guessing yourself is bad for your soul. She could be right. I could be wrong. But what she wants fixed is stuff I don't think is broken; things I offered up as part of the story I wanted to tell. At some point, you have to trust your own tools, else you risk becoming a robot.
Did I tell the story I wanted to tell?
Did I tell it well?
I don't know.
Is it a story anybody wants to hear?
That remains to be seen.
So I'm having her ship it as I wrote it, the book. It might go down in flames, but if so, so be it.
Because always: The first person who needs to be happy about the book you wrote has to be you ...