I’m sitting in my living room listening to an elderly miniature poodle snore and it seems to sum up my life right about now. So much is happening and I can’t seem to assimilate it all. It feels like someone’s throwing darts at me and I’m trying to catch them.

Back in September I decided to return to school. So, I enrolled in the Professional Writing Program in Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. I’ve been a writer, had some stuff published, but now I need to focus and this seemed like a good idea. Until this semester.

I’ve always been confident in my writing ability. I’ve never doubted whether or not my stuff was good or not, or whether it would be published or not. I know I’m good and I know I’ll be published. I don’t think I could live my life believing any less than that. If it sounds cocky, perhaps it is. However, I know I need some polishing. Thus, my reason for returning to school.

This semester I seriously considered giving up creative writing completely thanks to one of my instructors I shall name “Lady X”. It’s a hard thing to realize you don’t have the patience for someone else’s shortcomings and during the course I had with her, I wondered if putting up with people like her was worth it. The answer, “no” kept ringing in my head.

Lady X is a person I do understand. She doesn’t have any self-confidence and so hasn’t really pushed herself to take the serious chances in life. She believes she’ll fail long before she ever tries. So in her writing she sticks with the safe path that other writers have taken. I call it “Anne of Green Gables” writing. The story is safe, it doesn’t take a chance, it’s tried and true. The author never has to face slings and arrows of readers who sling muck in the author’s face. I don’t think all writers should be Salman Rushdie, but I think we should be true to our demons and dragons and parade them for the world to see. Why else are we writers?

I’ve taken serious chances in my writing. I’ve written stories where the lead character was a serial killer, about men who have been raped by women, I’ve asked women how they could sit around and let themselves be abused. I’ve criticized drug users and stood up for self-responsibility and self-accountability. I’ve let my writing tell the world that there is not a thing wrong with the sex-trade industry and petitioned to have prostitution made legal. I’ve also written other stories and articles on subjects I felt passionate about and felt the world needed to hear. I’m a writer. It’s what I do.

However, I was shocked to find that there are people like Lady X who don’t believe in themselves, their opinions or their writing. They shrink and apologize constantly. I have no time or patience for that so I usually ignore them. Until they become my instructors.

An instructor’s job is to teach not to impose. If an instructor lacks confidence, that’s fine. However, don’t stand at the front of the class and tell me I have to lack confidence as well. Don’t impose on me the burden of not believing in my writing or myself. It won’t happen. At 43, I’ve got enough marks on me to know who I am.

Was putting up with Lady X’s imposition of her self-abasement worth continuing as a creative writer? I have other skills. I could continue writing and leave that behind. No. I like my creativity and if I allowed Lady X to impose herself that much on my life then all my self-confidence meant nothing. I had to be better than that.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand what it’s like to live in fear constantly. I struggled with an anxiety disorder for years due to a misdiagnosis and mismedication. I know what that world is like better than most. I understand the world Lady X has created for herself. However, that’s her world, not mine.

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