It’s day 1267920218208 of my writer’s journey and I’m typing this post surrounded by an empty cup filled only with the dredges of coffee grounds and all my hopes and dreams.
Okay, that’s a bit morose.
Actually, this year has been wonderful for my writing career. I’ve written articles for a provisional newspaper and one for How to Love Comics. I’ve got more of my art out there and have made a decent dent in my journalism career than I ever thought was possible. I’ve even started to work on my mental health activism. I’ve come a long way from the woman of previous years that felt so lost and achingly alone. the woman who thought that the momentous things I’m achieving right now were a baseless fantasy. That anyone but me could do it.
I am proud… sometimes, mostly…rarely at all.
Logically, I know I should be. These aren’t small things. It took blood, sweat, and so many tears to get here. But, still. Still, I feel I should be doing more. That it’s not enough.
You see, dear reader, I have a book I’m currently working on. It’s my white whale, my Everest. (mostly because I think I’ll never reach the bloody top) It’s the story I’ve been obsessed with since I was seventeen. That’s more than a decade of revisions, getting annoyed at the garbage I’ve written, and just scraping the whole thing. Bleaching it from my memory and hard drive. Not once, not twice but five times. Five, I tell you!
To be fair to myself, when I started writing it, I definitely wasn’t in the state of mind to think any of it was good. I was severely depressed and doubted my talent constantly.
Now, I’m in a good place. Surrounded by good people, and my story has more depth than previous incarnations. I’ve added all the things I adore; Fantasy, epic romance, angst, humor, and witty language. I’ve also added mental health into the mix because I feel strongly about it and I want my work to include that. I want my characters to struggle with similar things that the majority of real people deal with every day. Albeit in a fantasy realm.
So, yes. I love the story I’m slowly but surely piecing together. I’ve gotten further than I have before. 132pgs. That’s incredible and I should be proud, I should feel amazing about it and I was. When I got that tunnel vision to write when I focused on nothing but my story day in and day out. I was moving at the speed of light, I was problem-solving left and right, I was working out plotholes. Making the story character-driven. It would be about redemption! And found families! Two lost souls that inspired each other to do better! There’d be magic and fighting! There’d be love! Tears! Hugs! Punches to the face, repeatedly! There’d be emotions! All the emotions!!
And then! Then there’d be…Nothing.
Just nothing but a blinking line filling me with embarrassment at my failure to get any words out. The embarrassment turned to shame as my personal deadline of August to finish my first draft came and went. My birthday specifically.
My little congratulated note filled my screen as I blinked at the harsh light.
Well Done! It read, I’m so proud of you! You deserve this.
But I didn’t work hard or deserve it. I made excuses. Ones that seemed valid at the time but now seem woefully inadequate. I just didn’t have inspiration, I was exhausted, which may have been true at first, but then, while I wouldn’t call it depression, I fell into something. A wave of insecurity. maybe. My stories have been done before, what if I write something that hurts someone without me knowing it? Maybe my characters are two-dimensional. Have I said this before? I think there’s a lot of repetition. The last chapter I wrote confounded me, I just couldn’t move past it and all my ideas and inspiration fell through my hands like mist.
It wasn’t that I lost interest, I wanted to write my book. Desperately. I have a story to tell. I’d like to be a published author soon and to do that requires hard work and sacrifice. I know this, which led to that vicious voice in my head, the one that started out as my father and then morphed its way as my own.
You’re lazy, it whispered.
Scared of a little work, it said.
Think about how everyone has supported you, think of how you’ve failed them! It yelled
Think about how disappointing you are.
The thing is, logically I know I’m loved, cared for. It’s hard to believe, difficult to understand some days, but most days I can see the love people have for me. Most days I can see the love I have for myself.
I think the problem is that writing is a long and lonely process. I love that process and being an introvert I like being alone. But I still don’t do well with being all alone with my craft, my insecurities plague me. I hate admitting this but I’m nothing but honest so, I like positive reinforcement. I never had that growing up, hell I never had much of it for a long time. So, yes. I believe the most important thing is to have faith in yourself and your abilities, but I also can love when people tell me that my words mean something to them. It makes me feel like I’ve touched another person’s soul, it makes me feel not so alone in this big wide world.
But writing a book isn’t an instant feedback type of deal. I have to sit long hours fixing my story together in a way that makes me happy with the words I’m crafting to make a world. It can be isolating at times.
For the moment, I’ve stopped speaking about my book to people for many reasons, sometimes it’s because I feel like I talk too much about it and don’t want to bother anyone with my constant story ideas. Recently I haven’t been talking about it because I haven’t written anything and I’m embarrassed to say so. It’s also because most people don’t ask, so it makes me feel small to bring it up in conversation. Like I’m forcing my insane ramblings onto people. So, I don’t. I’m insecure about it even though I know I have talent.
There’s some good news though, last night I got back into my book. Edited, added some context to previous chapters, and finally worked on the much-dreaded chapter I had stalled at. I’m happy to report, dear reader, that all together I wrote about 8000 words, give or take.
The funny thing is for weeks I had been procrastinating, telling myself I’d do it the next day and we all know how that typically goes. I just thought about the chapter, had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, then said to hell with it and got my laptop. I sat my butt down on the porch outside and worked through the night until daybreak. I wasn’t particularly motivated or inspired. I was actually feeling quite sad and dejected. I just knew that if I told myself to leave it for the next day, that day might never come and I’d be continuing the cycle again.
I know I’m too hard on myself. I know that I’m my biggest critic but somehow, someway, I’m going to find the balance of working hard while still being kind to myself and my needs.
I always want to be honest while I write these posts, so my feelings can come out raw and maybe to some like I don’t genuinely have a passion for what I do. Nothing can be further from the truth, I love what I do. I’d never, in a million years want to have a career in anything else (besides professional reader…or coffee taster, actually, no, I’ve got it. Professional Cat Cuddler, yep that’s the one.) but everything in life has its shares of problems. I share my own so hopefully, someone in the same paddle boat feels less alone.
Nobody walks this world alone, you shouldn’t have to either.
Much Love, Wren. xx
(Side note, I may make this into a series of my author’s journey. The high and lows of it all, the drafts, the agents, the publication. If anything, it might stem my procrastination!)