Where I spray-paint my thoughts…

Radio KFKD


In Anne Lamott’s wonderful book on writing, Bird by Bird, she talks about Radio KFKD, the radio station that streams two channels of self-talk into a writer’s head, non-stop, 24/7. The channel playing in one ear is constant self-aggrandizement: how wonderful, how talented, how brilliant I am. My version of this channel includes numerous clips from my imaginary interviews with Shelagh Rogers. Then in the other ear is playing a constant stream of bitter self-doubt: how I’m a talentless, worthless hack and nobody will ever read or enjoy my writing.

Like most writers, I am familiar with both channels of KFKD. Lately, I have been hearing a lot of the negative channel … because I’m in kind of a stuck place now, not as regards writing itself, but in the areas of getting work published, and promoting the things I do have published. This winter I’ve had long stretches of feeling like it’s futile; there are so many better writers out there with more interesting things to say, and even though I can never stop writing, perhaps I should give up on the fantasy of ever being read.

Today I brought the opening chapter — prologue actually — for the next novel I want to work on, to a workshop with my writing group, the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild. It was very affirming because, although I got some critique, I got mostly just positive vibes — everyone enjoyed it, laughed in all the right places, insisted they wanted to read more. So I left listening to the other channel for a change — how great I am, how wonderful my writing is, and I am all buoyed up to do more with this new project.

And yet … the doubts are still there, chattering away in my other ear. I wish I could silence them. I believe success will silence that channel forever, but I know from experience that it won’t. Are there any writers who ever achieve a healthy balance between the two channels, a realistic assessment of the value of their own work? I’d like to believe it, but if it’s possible, well … I’m just not there yet!


9 thoughts on “Radio KFKD

  1. Trudy, I am always tuned to KFKD. I am negative enough about myself as it is but I am so ready to put my writing down and to doubt it at every turn. (I won’t give you examples here, even from today.) It is part of writing and of being a writer. At least that’s what I think. That’s why Anne Lamott is so spot on for most writers. I think if you lose that, you lose the ability to be critical of your own work and the desire to always make it better.

    But I can assure you that what you read at the Guild today was brilliant and I know the hardest part of hearing you read it was trying to find somewhere it could be improved. I could tell by the critiques that everyone else felt the same and we all had to stretch to find something less than perfect about it. I loved it and I cannot wait to read more. I told hubby that if my Neo can churn out stuff like that while I’m using it, I would be very happy.

    It’s the winter blues and the between publications doldrums. And that cursed radio station. But it is definitely not your writing.

  2. Tina, you are so good for my self-esteem, I am going to get a special channel with just YOU on it!

    I’m looking forward to when you are brave enough to read something at a workshop … I know it will be good!

  3. Well, you know that *I* love your writing. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything of yours that I’ve read.

  4. I love Anne Lamott, but Bird by Bird is one book I haven’t read yet. Does KFKD stand for anything? It’s a brilliant way of describing that sensation – I think my head tends to switch back and forth between the two channels: while I’m writing, it’s on the self-aggrandizement station (“this is the most amazing post/dissertation ever written!!!”), and then on my first edit, it switches over to despair (“this is the worst post/dissertation ever written!!!”). By the second edit, the two streams are flowing together… No wonder I gave up writing fiction.

  5. Pingback: So, what the hell? « R e a l i t y F i s h

  6. I love Anne Lamott and just discovered your blog by googling “Anne Lamott and KFCKD”. Look forward to reading more and now I’m intrigued enough to read your books. I struggle with the notion of God and then when I’m feeling like a believer, with God period. I think your blog might just another one of those coincidences that isn’t a coincidence.

  7. I hope you find something to enjoy here, echosofmymind!

    • Thanks, I already have! I’m a writer and aspire to be as successful as you are. I’m also attempting, in my own fits-and-starts patchwork quilt kind of way, to find a spiritual path. I guess I’m on one whether I like it or now. Will order your books but we have a book buying moratorium at our house so for each one I get I have to give away another. Readaholics that my husband and I are! Here’s my blog: http://memoirsandhalftruths.wordpress.com/ if you care to take a gander. My husband’s from Maine and we are planning to someday get up to Newfoundland (we are in Colorado) for a long trip. He loves it there. Cheers, Marie

  8. Pingback: week 14 – reality check – Pragmatic Poet

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