There was a time, not all that long ago when I was a n00b writer. Not that I know everything now, or that I’m advanced or any such flight of fantasy. I just… didn’t even know what I didn’t know yet, I was still trying to get past chapter 8 of Ruby’s and I was writing a lot of fan fiction just to keep the fingers moving (and because I loved the accolades. Seriously, ego plays a #YUGE part of this writing thing).
I remember that I was sucking up information and advice from wherever I could get it and trying to apply it all to my writing. One publication said, “you’re doing it wrong if you’re doing this!!” and so I stopped doing that but then another publication said, “you’re doing everything right if you’re doing this!” and I started doing that and then other publications said, “those pubs don’t know what they’re talking about!” and I would get confused and flustered and didn’t know which way was up.
Couple that with advice like, “you’ll never publish your first book. Don’t even think about it, it won’t be good enough. But you should write it.” Nothing made me feel like more of a waste of space, failure of a writer. That thing you’re writing that you think is pretty good actually sucks and it won’t go anywhere but you should waste your time and finish it and then BURN IT, LOSER.
Quelle dramatic! I know. I have a flair for the dramatic, specifically where my feelings about my own writing come into play. So, for a long time I put those pub mags and advice columns and blog posts away. Unless they were a trusted source, I paid no attention. I couldn’t let myself get caught up in what seemed like the negative push toward aspiring or new writers… it’s like people are trying to break their spirit before they even get deep into the industry.
And back then, I was just trying to write, to put one word behind another behind another with some punctuation, adhering to a plot and so forth. I saw SO MUCH advice on picking an agent and submitting to publishers and marketing your book but I HAD NOT WRITTEN A BOOK YET and so I was frustrated. So yeah. I put it all away and started listening to ME and the voices in my head and doing what they wanted me to do.
And that worked. For three-ish books. Well 1 and then others because I had previously written Same Time Next Week and A Thin Line as fanfiction. I simply rewrote them, changing characters and some backstory but the majority of the story stayed the same.
But now though? Right now? At this very moment…. I’m not a new writer anymore. I need more than voices in my head and how I feel. I need… structure? And I’m suffering from an affliction that a lot of us know, and many of us claim does not exist (and seriously eff you because you’re not staring at your laptop blinking back tears because you’ve got NOTHING. NO. THING to put down on paper. Doesn’t exist? Yeah anyway) called Writer’s Block.
This stuff, this writing stuff, this being a novelist stuff, this author stuff… it does not get easier. Because now you know what you don’t know. You know what you’re good at bringing out and what needs work. You know how many drafts you need to make something ‘good’. You know deadlines, even if they’re self-imposed.
Most of all you know good writing. And you know good effort and you know when you’re not giving much of either. And you know when you sit down to type out some words whether or not it’s a pile of excrement.
Way back when I was trying to get myself to finish Ruby’s, I said, I don’t care if it’s a pile of crap, I’m finishing it! I’ll print one for myself and my mom and that’ll be IT! And the first iteration of Ruby’s…. wow. It was 150,000 words of……. Something. I won’t say crap. But it needed a deep edit. But now it’s out there. And I know if I can push myself to get past the ‘this is crap’ moment, I could get something else out there again.
But I sit down at the computer and I look at what I have and I feel disappointment. I don’t know how to feel anything else. I write what comes to me… but to ME, in MY opinion, it’s not good. Now, YES… before you ask, I have people read my stuff.
It’s good ! says J. Yaassss! says C.
And I guess it’s just me but I look at it and go….. what the holy em eff am I doing? This…. what are they talking about? There’s too much this and not enough that and she’s saying the same thing in every chapter and so one dimensional and I’m this far in and nothing has happened and UGH * throws computer across the desk *
I actually threw the project away. Deleted it and then emptied the trash.
Because what matters is if I like it and if I don’t, it’ll never see the light of day. And lately, I hate everything.
And I don’t know how to change that. Except to seek help. So I am back to reading advice and taking in information, not a whole lot at once because the drinking from a firehose thing was not good for me. But trusted sources, recommended resources are back in my line of sight.
I cannot do this on my own. No matter how solitary the profession of writing is and no matter how many of us are introverted spaz monsters, this is a community where (hopefully) we help each other, we encourage each other, and we don’t make others feel like doing well is an impossibility.
Holding on to that like a life raft right now.