The Noise Inside

So. I’m taking this remarkable online writing class, one of the great workshop offerings coming from TSPoetry. This week’s assignment was to write about jealousy and it’s impact on my writing life. I would like to tell you that I am ABOVE such emotions, that I am spiritually mature enough to never have to deal with the green-eyed monster, that I am completely confident in my own ability to write what God gives me to write. I would like to tell you all of that. But, in truth, I cannot. I am grateful for this group of writers and the kindness and encouragement we share with one another.  AND, my classmates tell me I am not alone in this craziness; I find that oddly comforting.

 (I should probably tell you that we were to riff off of a chapter in Anne Lamott’s wonderful book, “Bird by Bird.” So this is my small attempt at humor.)

Sometimes it feels really crowded up inside my head!!

I recently wrote a piece for a A Deeper Family entitled, “The Crazy Lady”  In it, I described one of the voices that inhabits my head, the one that takes me to the precipice of anxiety and tells me I’m pretty dang worthless along the way.

And she’s a mighty force, that voice, determined to push me into incessant navel-gazing and unnecessary worst-case-scenario thinking.

What I didn’t say in that essay is that The Crazy Lady is not the only voice inside my head. No sirree. She is just the leader of the pack. Her posse includes a few other banditos, of varying ages and shapes, who somehow manage to inhabit my psychic inner space with alarming frequency, making life interesting on the best of days and wildly challenging on the worst. 

Shall I name them for you? Let’s see — there is The Little Girl, about age six, who needs some comforting now and again. And then there’s the gremlin-like version of my mother, The Parent Voice (or the infamous Inner Critic) who calls me names that I would never dream of calling another living soul, who constantly criticizes my every thought and word, and who often succeeds in making me feel like a worthless pile of crap.

And then we have . . . ta da! . . . The District Attorney, who is always trying to make sure the balance scales of life are even, or, if possible, tipped a tiny bit in my direction. I can see her now, in her fancy suit, pencil skirt, white blouse, tailored jacket. Large horn-rimmed glasses, minimal jewelry, hair up in a bun, and a pencil stuck just behind her ear, the better to jot down the names of others who are getting far too much attention, don’t you know?

Did you see who got ALL those comments this morning? It’s just not fair – your writing is at least as good as hers!

Are you kidding me??? SHE got a book contract? How is that even possible?

That person has not been blogging nearly as long as you have and just LOOK at the audience she has built. She’s got this ‘platform’ thing sewn up.

And it’s at about this point that, all of a sudden, the pencil disappears, the hair comes down, the tailored suit morphs into a long flowing gown that glistens darkly in the light and every piece of jewelry she owns is shining, dangling, teasing me into these kinds of thoughts:

Dahling, did you read that line? That perfect line of prose, those words that sing? What a pity that you can’t write a line like that.

I really think you should move onto something else in life. Your words are SO pedestrian, so redundant and reductive and altogether B O R I N G.

And then, in a flash, the glitter disappears, the hair turns the color of mouse fur, and she hunches over as if she’s embarrassed to be in the same space as all these other fascinating creatures inhabiting my head. She becomes a more pathetic version of the inner critic, mumbling and wringing her hands. I call her Miss Mouse.

I KNEW you should never have tried this – you just aren’t good enough.

That woman over there, she knows what she’s doing and she’s going to make a huge splash. But YOU? Not a chance.

Platform? Did you hear about something called a platform? Oh my, one more thing you simply cannot do.

So please, just shut it down, okay? Just SHUT IT DOWN, before you embarrass us all.

Sigh. It’s a wonder I get anything done ever, don’t you think?


In the spirit of playfulness and story-telling, posting this with Laura and Jen this week.


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  1. Diana, I understand because I’ve felt the same way. You’re very good at cheering others on in their writing, and those of us who attempt writing. Your voice is a good one. Remarkable, really. Full of wisdom and honesty and grace. Your unique view of the world around you is sorely needed friend, and I for one, am grateful for your you.

    • Thank you so much for these oh-so-kind words, Heather! I’m grateful you stopped by and more than grateful that you left such words in this space.

  2. And here I am feeling jealous of you all that are in that class together! All those different voices you describe? They all live in this head too. Along with a few others :). It’s a crazy, mixed up world of communtiy and comparison, isn’t it? Your voice has always been one of those that grounds me, though. Whatever those little voices say, Diana, I know you always invest where it matters most. And in this weird cyberworld, that counts for something.

    • What a relief to know that others – most especially beautiful you! – deal with the cacophony of inside-the-head voices. And I do try to invest wisely, but sometimes that in itself is a real challenge. Praying for you as you put your beautiful book together.

  3. If you combine the 6-year-old with the “dahling” lady, you get Eloise. Just picture Eloise, and you’ll instantly laugh and ignore.

    • What great advice, Megan! I never read Eloise growing up and have only seen one or two books since I’ve had grandkids – but what I see, I love. I’ll have to re-read and then cement that personality in my mind for future set-tos with the ‘dahling’ lady. :>)

  4. Ha! I put mine up over at BibleDude today, too. 🙂

  5. Oh those incessant voices are wrong, so wrong…don’t listen to them! We can all relate well to voices like these. I have all you have described here (and more) that do their utmost to cripple me at every turn. Diana, your voice is one that sings a beautiful song we never tire of hearing. You are grace, wisdom, compassion, love and humour in one fascinating package. Please keep on writing!! We need your voice. And your photos are pretty darn good too. Thank you. 🙂 x

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement, Joy – here, and on Twitter, too! And I will keep writing. . . despite all the noise up inside this head of mine.

  6. Well, you sure surprised ME today! I remember the Crazy Lady you wrote about recently, but can hardly believe all these other people live in your head also. YOU are one who exudes calm confidence and shares wise words for the rest of us! Maybe you could print out all these encouraging comments and paste them around your computer. May they speak LOUDLY over Crazy Lady and the rest, reassuring you that your words matter to a great many people!

    • Oh, Nancy – everyone has multiple voices of criticism and fear inside their heads, even those of us who have learned, over long years and many experiences, to cover it all with a veneer of calm and confidence. I will say, however, that the confidence today is far more real than it has ever been and that God has been gracious to grow me in these areas over my many years. :>) And this is a hyperbolic piece – an exaggerated, hopefully humorous piece about all the ‘enemies’ that try to shoot us in the foot from time to time. I have learned to speak encouragement to myself as well as to others – some days that’s easier to do than others. Thanks for your words of encouragement tonight!

  7. Oh Diane. Maybe the next time my voices are talking, iIcould send them over to play with yours. Maybe we should send them off somewhere on a cruise together – send them on one boat and we’ll take another!

    I can relate, oh how I can relate. I am volunteering at StoryChicago this weekend on the registration and greeting team. My little Kid is terrified that she will make a mistake and screw something up and get in trouble. (I am an adult with ADHD who never knew, until a few years ago, but it explains oh so much as I look back through the years. The Inner Critic is also quite articulate. I recognize Miss Mouse too. Shoot! I recognize all of them!

    But I’ll keep writing too.

    Thanks for sharing. I love that I landed on this site from Deeper Story. I haven’t met many other bloggers who write from our vantage point and it’s nice to be here!

    • Oh, I like that cruise idea, Carol! And you know, they don’t bother me all the time. When anxiety levels rise, however, I can hear them all cackling away in there. I’m learning to speak peace and hope and truth right back to them, however, and know that scripture and memorized prayers really do help with this whole mess of stuff. Many blessings as you offer your services at that great conference. Maybe one of these years, I’ll go to that. Just tell yourself that you can’t get in trouble – you can make a mistake, but everybody does that. But you can’t get in trouble because you’re already safe. (If you want to find more writers over 50, I made a list at the kind suggestion of Sarah Bessey over a year ago and she posted it at her blog. You could do a search over there for it. There are a lot of great bloggers out here who write from – shall we say? – a more lived-in place.)

  8. Holy crap. You read my mail! I had no idea these idlers were taking up space in your head too!?! Geez Louise. At LEAST they could offer to pay rent or buy groceries. Thanks. Points well taken!

  9. This is your friend voice. Thank you for writing. Period.
    (And may I say, I hope to hug you in person, my newfound online friend, sometime this year…..)

    Go, Diana!

    • Thanks, Jody! I have several good ‘friend’ voices – yours included. It would be lovely to meet you in person. Are you coming down the coast this year?? We’ve got lots of lovely places to enjoy a cup of tea, including our backyard. Just sayin’.

  10. Visiting from Jen’s. Oh those voices find their way in to my head too. And just this past week I had that same feeling…as I tried to write a post that was on comparing myself to others which took me hours and hours to write…it’s a wonder I get anything done. This sounds like a wonderful writing class you are taking. The world needs your words too and I’m grateful for the opportunity to read them today.