I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that I might not be a good writer.
Okay, stop, stop. Please—hold the compliments and praise (jk tell me I’m pretty).
Most of you know I’ve been working on a novel for the past year—but everything about this has been so much harder than anything else I’ve ever written. Writing about my ex or my family is just a whooooosh of words-bazinga-pow that come shooting out of my fingertips. But fiction? Not so much.
Alex came home the other night and I was curled in the fetal position on the couch with my head in the cushions. Thankfully, he knew just what I needed.
Dr. Alex: “Where does it hurt?”
Me: *opens laptop, shows him my browser tabs*
Prognosis: It’s probably going to last the rest of my damn life because the one common thread in all these articles was a statement of “basically it never gets better” backed up with quotes from Pulitzer winners and people like Neil Gaiman.
The biggest problem is that I know what I want my book to be– but I have absolutely no idea how to get there. I see this a lot when I paint with someone for the first time. For me, painting is judgment-free. I like to get weird. Everything is a brush, including my knee pit and/or a tree branch wrapped in toilet paper that’s beaten against the canvas like a drum solo.
But for most people, there comes this moment of frustration: They dip the brush in the paint, they carefully drag it across the surface, and it looks absolutely nothing like they imagined in their minds.
This is exactly how I feel about my book. Like I know what it should be, and yet… it’s just not happening.
So I’m going to take a break. After a year of drafting and re-drafting and revising and editing I’m going to put this manuscript in the trunk.
This decision is killing me.
I have to contact my beta readers and tell them “never mind” (because obviously I asked them way in advance and gave them a specific date I would send them my draft because I’m insane like that). If you know me at all, you know I live and die by my goals and my systems and my calendars. I think I can 1-2-step-formula my way to almost anything. And, honestly, I usually can.
But not this.
I feel like such a failure– but at the same time, I’m very lazy. I’m not going to keep beating a dead horse when my returns are diminishing. And at this point, I’ve read this draft so many times that the sentences no longer contain meaning. They’re stand-ins for what I *think* I’ve written. You could go in and change every instance of the word “walk” to “hop” and I wouldn’t notice. Because I’m seeing what I think is there– not what actually is.
Which is mostly a steaming pile of shite.
I know this is very much a first world sort of problem. Last week I went to the doctor (go me, adult stuff!) and she asked if I was dealing with any major stressors– I started laughing and said something about how all my problems are made-up problems.
Still, it’s hard to let this go. My first thought, when realizing I had to stop, was: “What am I going to think about when I’m at work?” Because obviously I don’t actually focus on work when I’m at work.
I told Alex that putting this book away felt like the equivalent of him asking me to move out because we have problems– but hoping things will magically get better in a couple months and I can maybe come home. There’s a slight chance I’m being melodramatic, but still… I feel like I’m giving up on something, even if it’s just the idea that I can have control over my creative output.
Which apparently I can’t.
So I’m just a girl, standing in front of my manuscript, asking it to stop sucking so much. Wish me luck.
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