Hey, remember when I was paralyzed with self-doubt and a whole bunch of garbage nonsense when it came to writing fiction? As expressed in my previous post on this very website?
Well. Never mind.
Literally two days later I started working on my book again. I say “again” because I’d been working on the outline, and because years ago I’d written the first chapter and just never came back to it. I still liked the chapter, so I kept it, and just fucking started writing again.
What happened between that blog post and me actually getting my shit together, against all expectations? A friend who writes for a living told me that writing, for said friend, had always felt like pulling teeth. The muse had never come to visit, the words didn’t ever stream out effortlessly as though guided by some unseen hand — no! It was always work, a chore, a thing that had to be done or there would be no career in writing. That was just a fact, for this friend.
So what the fuck was my excuse, then? I had none! I had literally absolutely no excuse to not be writing. So I figured fuck it, I’ll just sit down and set a timer and see how much shit I can churn out in 35 minutes. 35 minutes of torture isn’t that bad. I can do it!
So I did.
And I did again the next day. And the next. I kept writing! And it wasn’t painful! I mean, it wasn’t and is never easy. I’m constantly referring back to my outline to tell me what the fuck is going on. And most of what I’ve written is actual trash (that’s what editing is for, I remind myself CONSTANTLY). But I’m actually enjoying it, and I’m starting to think about the characters when I’m out doing other things, and I just…!
I’m writing again???
I’ve had to aggressively ignore my inner critic, who is a huge bitch, and ignoring her is easier said than done. Every time I feel myself starting to panic and freeze because a scene isn’t good enough, or because I haven’t included enough backstory or context or whatever, I have to remind myself that it’s okay. All of that can be fixed later. A manuscript is a living thing for a while, and the main goal now is to just write it. Plus it’s not as if anyone is going to read this. Right now, it’s just for me.
I also think that having written an entire novel before has given me confidence. When I wrote my first book, I didn’t even know if I could do it. For all I knew, I possessed a recessive gene that would forcibly block me from ever finishing any manuscript I tried to write. Like I’d have a stroke or something just as I started writing the last chapter, I dunno, who knew? It was an unknown road I walked those years ago.
But now, I know I can do it! I can write an entire 90,000-word first draft in less than a year. It is a task that I can physically and mentally accomplish. Not an easy task, but one I can do 100%.
Listen. It’s possible I’ll get stuck somewhere in this manuscript and never finish it, and that will be okay. It’s also possible that I’ll finish it, and that will be great too! For now, though, I’m just feeling really good to be writing again. And I’m enjoying the story as it unfolds. I’m enjoying getting to know my characters! I wrote 5,000 words this weekend! That’s not nothing! I’ve written 10,000 words in a week, and I’m enjoying it.
I honestly can’t believe it.
Anyway, before I go, please direct your attention to the illustration at the top of this post. It’s just a little doodle, but her name is Georgiana, and she’s my book’s protagonist. Maybe one day you’ll get to read about her! If not, well, just know that she’s very sarcastic and runs away from all of her problems. Exactly like me. (She’s very easy to write.)
One thought on “so, about the writing”
Meg, I’m so thankful for your friend’s advice and your heroic foray back into writing. You are such a good writer, it would be a waste of talent for you to give it up, especially out of fear. As a graphic artist, granted of questionable skill, but still as one who again and again tackles a creative act, it is always work, often work laden with anxiety and fear of not accomplishing what I hope and envisioned, oh brother. And if I waited on the muse, I would have conpletely stopped painting years ago. I’m always annoyed at people who assume that being creative must be so therapeutic for us artists. I don’t know about you, but apart from a few with the particular fetish, I’d wager not many of us would consider an enema “therapeutic”, certainly necessary as a last resort to get things flowing again, but therapeutic? That’s more what creating has often been like for me. Also at times it’s been fun, exciting and rewarding. Just not most of the time. Anyway, i’m Happy you’re writing again and holding the outcome more loosely. Sounds very courageous and healthy to me. Anyway that and I love you are my two cents.