Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Self-doubt

Stormy sky on coastal path to Par, with crows and sheep

"Self-doubt remains an essential part of my make-up. But, as I think I've made clear, ultimately I see it as a strength and not a weakness."  Alastair Campbell on self-doubt for The Essay: The Case for Doubt http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17689596

My view of Alastair Campbell was altered forever when I was on a ferry to France with my daughter and watched an interview with him on a French books programme. He's fluent in French and I was watching a person I'd never seen before on British TV. Then I read his essay - a call for the value of doubt among all the self-help and management advice on how to eradicate it. 

Right now, I equate self-doubt with the slugs and snails on my allotment. I don't know why, but I can't do much about either. Campbell has some great insights, mainly relating to depression. I know my doubt right now is inextricably linked to finishing a collection. The poems are in the word file, in an order that's changing at least twice a week. I've been adding little ones. I've put one or two back and will take some out again. The collection's still a little fluid. Three sections are clear and any changes I make to these will be relatively small. 

Then there's the fourth section where my doubt squats. I am trying to understand it. How do these new poems sit in relation to everything that's out there now and is due out? My doubt might be healthy, right, a way of scrutinising this section of the book until it slots into place. Yesterday I spent three hours trying to recreate the thought pattern that led to one of those poems! It felt like the fear of leaving the grill on I had on the way to a ferry once. Good friends put a ladder up to my flat to look into the kitchen. It was before mobiles. I rang them later from a call box. 

I did find the thought pattern and remembered what had brought the poem to life. Remembered why I wrote the 492 words in the poem and what each word represents. It was important, because it's a poem of repeated words and the numbers are crucial. So this self-doubt is just a question of checking the moorings, the locks, the keys, the dials and the knots linking these poems, perhaps?