The Quibbler

They bicker constantly, these voices in my head. There’s the dour one that I used to call realism but really deserves a much less respectable name—Ursula, for instance—who likes to point out in increasingly shrill tones that I am absolutely not cut out to be a writer and should give up before I make a fool of myself. She takes full responsibility for making sure I know how just how lousy I am each time I sit at my desk. If I stay seated, she peers over my shoulder telling me at intervals how this phrase is far too convoluted and that one appears to be written by a three-year-old and that if I were actually any good at writing, it wouldn’t take me so long. If I get up, she pats me on the back with her sharp nails and says, “Yes, very good; you’re much better at being a house cleaner. Well, the potential is there at any rate. You can find the grout cleaner under the sink.”

Then there’s the voice of creative intuition, Seraphina, who tells Ursula to kindly remove her ugly backside from the premises. Seraphina plays my veins like wind chimes and reminds me that what makes me feel truly alive is what I should be doing, external validation be damned. She texts Orlagh to get her vacationing butt back home. Come to think of it, she has kind of a thing about butts, but I really don’t mind when she’s telling me how nice mine looks planted in my desk chair. She tells me not to give up, never to give up, that the grout can wait for the next tenants.

Mrs. Fuzziwuggins occasionally pipes up to tell me I’m a special and unique snowflake, but the other two just tell her to shut up.

If I’m not careful, ­­­ Severa Slushpool slips into the back room chanting  “Guilt, Guilt, Guilt, Guilt,” until I am convinced of my unworthiness to exist. Ursula shrugs and says, “She has a point; you’ve produced nothing of value today, and at least one of your children is currently pantsless.” Mrs. Fuzziwuggins sticks her pudgy fingers in my ears while telling the others off for crushing my delicate spirits. Seraphina argues that I’m stronger than that. “Guilt, Guilt,” chants Severa in the voice of a pipe organ.

“Just a reminder,” whispers Graziella, the in-house massage therapist from my spiritual spa, “You are under no obligation to feel guilt anymore.”

“That would be accurate,” snaps Ursula, “if you were spending your time in worthier pursuits. Scrubbing down the balcony, for instance.”

“There is no more worthy pursuit than the one that inspires your passion and whole-hearted creative effort,” contends Seraphina.

Mrs. Fizziwuggins quickly adds, “But no need to strain yourself, dear; we wouldn’t want to stifle your fragile specialness.”

“SHUT UP!” shouts everyone else.

“Guilt,” cuts in Severa Slushpool. “Guilt, Guilt, Guilt, Guilt, Guilt.”

“Hey guys!” bursts Orlagh, out of breath and smelling faintly of coconut rum. “What did I miss?”


Discussion questions:

1) What do the voices in your head quibble about? You do have to deal with quibbling voices, right?

::cue the crickets::

2) For the sake of making me feel less crazy, pretend you have to deal with quibbling voices too. Would you:

a) volunteer for an experimental surgery to plant earplugs into your temporal lobe?
b) decide that whichever voice you agree with at any given moment is the correct one?
c) kill them off one by one like in that John Cusack movie?
d) take up drinking coconut rum?

3) Am I crazy?

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  1. 1) The voices in my head? Hmmm… There’s lots of you-should-fee-guilty-for-incurring-student-loan-debt-and-then-quitting-teaching. There’s a fair amount of you-really-should-only-be-feeding-you-children-food-you-grew-yourself. And there’s usually a heaping helping of TV-will-be-the-ruination-of-your-children. The voices don’t really care too much about my writing, unless of course it causes me to get take-out or park my two-year-old in front of a movie. Not that I ever do that, of course…

    2) Rum. Definitely the rum.

    3) Yes, in the best possible way a special and unique snowflake can be.

  2. How I love you. Seraphina! You ARE crazy, but in such a GOOD GOOD way. Tell those voices of yours that if you can write like THIS, they can go take a hike. Also, grout cleaner? What’s that?

    WRITE ON, baby!

  3. Ummmm….yes. I do have the voices. It is mostly Ursula, about the cleaning. She is on me all the time, and then there is Severa about the guilt. Since I am not a writer, it isn’t about writing. It is about NOT DOING ENOUGH AROUND THE HOUSE. Or, with the kids. My Ursula was walking around with me all morning pointing out the places around my house that look HORRIBLE. So, if you are crazy, I am too. And I think Rum might be the answer, in a fruity drink? With an umbrella? Maybe a slushy drink? Where do you want to meet?

    But, alas, Orlagh is back! So, I guess you will be busy.

  4. 1. They all want me to say “yes, I do have quibbling voices”, and are quite happy to be noticed; with the exception of Hildaguard, who is a lot like Ursla. They are usually least vocal, with the exception of Hildaguard, when I am trying to produce art for children’s books that I have written.
    2. We like the idea of a little Baily’s by a roaring fire when there is a slight chill outside.
    3. We like to call it quixotic.

    I am glad Orlagh is back!

  5. again at work…i’m cracking up behind my lcd reading your posts!!
    Bethany…never give up, pls: i love to read about your inner voices (call me Seraphina, if you want)!!! You really got a talent.

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