A small consolation remains that all of us writers have our own resident doubter, even the established, supremely talented ones: Katherine Anne Porter called courage "the first essential" for a writer. "I have to talk myself into bravery with every sentence," agreed Cynthia Ozick, "sometimes every syllable." E. B. White said he admired anyone who "has the guts to write anything at all." A marginal comfort? It does seem to imply that the Gollum can be wrested from his nefarious purpose, does it not? That he can be overcome, or utilized to spur us onwards and upwards? Hope springs eternal after all.
Curiously, I find this performance-fear manifesting in other creative mediums; I am also a painter of ambitious proportions; I mean this literally - I stretch my own canvases to impossibly large sizes and then spend several years meticulously painting every square inch. And on every occasion before attempting a particularly challenging portion (lately the fur of a tiger) my Gollum raises his brutish head and his cunning hiss echoes through my mind: you call yourself an artist? You are really going to attempt to do that?
So to roll it all to the overwhelming question: How do we evict our Gollum? Honestly, I don't know that we can. I think we need to recognize his destructive intent and perhaps utilize it as a galvanizing force to mitigate his influence. At the very least we ignore him and push on and push on. The key, I believe is to keep writing. Then when we come to the end, when we insert that final period of that final sentence - at least, then, it is done warts and all. And of course the subsequent editing (visions and revisions that a minute will reverse! - sorry still have Prufrock on my mind!) refines the product still further. I think in the end we all have the power to surprise our inner Gollum, to render him quietly muttering to his own dark corner in reluctant acknowledgement that perhaps his landlord has some small modicum of ability after all. As many many writers have urged previous to me: just keep writing and it will come - in fits and starts maybe, some days more easily than others...but the potential for completion is there inside - the golden ring jealously guarded by the Gollum - We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.
So in search of the golden nugget for my next book, and endeavoring most valiantly to studiously ignore the internal wheeze : you will never find it! I charge onwards, musing on dramatic plot potentials, possible character combinations, and a lurking Gollum of a guest.