“And it’s hard to dance/With a devil on your back/So shake him off.”


Like climbing a god-damn mountain. Hurts more than childbirth. Not enough hours in the day. Can’t type fast enough. Can’t keep up with what’s in my head. Can’t get what’s in my head onto paper.


You will fail.

Can’t find the right words. Can’t explain what I dream.  Every day, someone else finishes a book. Gets an agent. Gets it published. Every day, it’s not me. This is stupid. I should quit. Spend more time with my kids. Get a real job.

You shouldn’t have started this. 

Sudden flight. Words, flowing. The story, perfect and whole, flooding out of me. Yes. Yes! See? Not so hard, after all.

Then the plunge, swift spiral to the earth. Lower, to darker places. No way out of here. It’s not good enough. No one will like it. No one will read it.

You don’t know what you’re doing. Stop embarrassing yourself. 

Write. I have to write. I will write for everything I can’t fix. For every kid  whose suffering this world has forgotten.  For the misfits, the damaged, the abandoned, the unloved.

What, now you’re Gandhi? *eyeroll* 

I will write more. I will write faster. I will write better. I will not give up.  Others have climbed this mountain. Others have made it to the top. I will, too.

You’re not strong enough. You’re not smart enough.

I’ll keep writing. I’ll get stronger. I’ll get smarter. This is the dream. This is what it takes.

Deep down, you don’t believe. You don’t believe you’ll succeed.

I don’t have to believe. All I have to do is write.

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  1. Vaughn Roycroft

    January 15, 2014 at 8:39 am

    God, that’s beautiful. (How did you know what the voices in my head were saying?) The last line is so perfectly uplifting, Sabaa! Great song, too, one of Flo’s best!

    1. sabaatahir

      January 15, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Thanks so much Vaughn. Those voices have been the bane of my existence for years! The only thing that seems to shut them up is to keep writing.

  2. Tonia Marie Houston

    January 15, 2014 at 9:49 am

    I love this for the reasons or dear V. already mentioned. You must see inside my head. Or is it a common thread for us writers? I like to think so; as much as I may tout my general weirdness, it’s nice to feel like others out there understand.

    Great song and I’m sticking that last line in my quote journal. I’m following. How could I not be a fan? 🙂

    Thank you.

    1. sabaatahir

      January 15, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Glad you liked it! And you are definitely not alone! I think so many of us feel this. Even now that I’m in a better place career wise (finally), doubt still creeps up. The only way I can fight that doubt is to force myself to focus on the writing and only the writing.

      This is why I love my writer’s group. It only has two other people in it, but its just a nice reminder that maybe I’m not as crazy as I feel like I am.

  3. Lisa Threadgill

    January 15, 2014 at 10:34 am

    I am presented every day with the evidence that I am not alone. I never weary of it. Beautifully done.

  4. Rachel Harkham

    January 16, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Are you living in my brain, or is it that I’m really not the only one who has these exact thoughts running on a loop through my brain? Thank you for writing this perfect piece.

  5. Pamela Courtney

    January 25, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Saw this on Susanna Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic page. So glad I stopped by. How great to know I’m not alone in these feelings. “It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back. Shake him off!” Yessuh!

  6. sabaatahir

    January 25, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    I am so happy people are finding it useful. It was pretty much the dialogue in my head every day for years. 🙂

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