All this time

I feel like the peak of my writing, not the peak of skill or outcome, but the peak of when I was writing the most, must have been middle school. I had a lot of enthusiasm, a decent sense of confidence in my abilities fed by various English teachers, a wealth of inspiration from all the books I was reading, and not much of an inner editor yet. I didn’t have much in the way of friends, never mind a social life, and a lot of bullies, and writing was the perfect escape. The Internet existed but it wasn’t ubiquitous, and most of the current sharing mechanisms and social networking stuff didn’t exist yet, so I wrote it for myself and didn’t even think of anyone else seeing it. I was basically telling myself stories, transcribing my daydreams.

Even in high school when my social life took off a bit, it was probably because I was still living at home and didn’t have much in the way of responsibilities. Even though I had a job after 16, it’s not like I had to come home, take care of a house, spend time with my family (I did, but it’s different when you’re a kid and it’s your parents. Not much you have to do to maintain that relationship, as opposed to a spouse).

I still had a lot of free time in college, even though my journals from the time are rife with despair over how I have so much schoolwork to do and no time. I chalk that up to undiagnosed anxiety disorder more than anything. I lived in the dorms so I did have social stuff going on, but I was also able to close myself up in my room if I chose and just write.

There have always been the times when the muse really strikes me, and I do a lot of writing, fitting it in between working, taking care of things around the house, spending time with my husband. I always feel guilty either that I’m not spending enough time writing or not spending enough time doing all those other things. I can’t win, I guess. And I think I’ve gotten way too good at tamping down any urges or inspiration, especially when I have a full-time job, satisfying myself with daydreaming through a story rather than writing anything down.

Now I really have no excuse. I’m between jobs at the moment so I’ve been home, and of course all my other projects are clamoring for my attention. Crafts, art, baking and cooking, cleaning, spending time with my husband. And, sadly, I’ve found it all too easy to waste hours on the internet. It’s really easy to get that false sense of urgency like “I have to catch up with all the articles on this site that I missed” even though said articles will probably be there, waiting for me, until the end of the Internet itself. Also easy to get that false sense of accomplishment from reading through several pages of stuff like that.

Today I’m thinking about how I should dust the (last of? Please?) seasonal pollen off of everything in my house. I swear I just dusted and vacuumed the week before last. I pretty much wore out my baking and ice cream making last week, but there’s that painting sitting upstairs that I haven’t touched in awhile. That dishcloth I’m knitting. Those countless video games, some of which I started years ago and haven’t touched since (so I have to restart, and the cycle begins anew). That scrap cabinet door I have to sand down and make into a chalkboard like I’ve been wanting to. Piles of cooking magazines with recipes to file.

It is way too easy to transform a bunch of inanimate objects with no-deadline importance into urgent duties gathering dust while I waste all my time. Like I need to create stress, right? Who was it who said “may you die with all your work complete?”

Shoot, I still haven’t reposted all of my recent reviews from Goodreads up here (which counts for what, 95% of my content the last couple years?) I think the last post I made on here was “I’m at the end of my first semester of baking school.” BTW I graduated in May. ;p

My point (yes, there is one!) is that out of all the invented urgent tasks I have, writing ought to be top of the list, right?

I have a couple of stories I started literally almost a year ago, assigned by Kris, that I could probably claw may way through, but nothing’s really grabbed me by the back of the neck in a while. As usual, I start going back, re-reading, and poking at things that did grab me by the back of the neck previously. In this case, Negatives

I really have to get it into the hands of a professional editor, but I feel like I have to rewrite it “just one more time.” Partly because I feel like every rewrite is so much better than the previous, partly because I already started (also probably a year or more ago, when I started going to — and subsequently left — the creative writing club at my school) and have only a few chapters of “wow, that’s so much better” against a manuscript yet untouched. Also I erased an unnecessary character and I have to erase him from the rest of it still.

There’s also money. Now that my student loans are coming out of grace and I’m jobless, I don’t want to spare the cash to hire anyone. Maybe once Kris is done with school I can hire him on part time; then at least I’ll be giving my money to a friend, one whom I’d be sending this stuff all through anyway. He at least may know a person.

The ultimate stumbling block, as always, is fear. It’s so safe, my novel and its two siblings, sitting unread by all but me on my computer. If I edit/revise it, then I should get it to a pro editor. If I get it to a pro editor and then finalize it, then what? Shop around for an agent? Should I even do that? Self-pub it on Kindle? Put it up online somewhere for free and hope it creates an accidental following?

Tycho from Penny Arcade put it really well, about the dangers of sharing your creation:

Brave to write it, all by itself, and then brave to show it.  It is like opening your ribcage, and letting someone see the little bird you have inside.  What if they don’t love the bird?  It’s not like you can change it.  I mean…  That’s your bird.

I’m full of excuses. Last week I told myself I couldn’t possibly get into revising the next chapter because it’d been so long since the last few that I needed to reread them to get myself back into whatever flow of voice I had going. Of course I only had time to do the re-read and then life interrupted again.

I think I might have found something that might work. The only problem, as usual, is execution: maybe I can make myself sit down for a little bit every day and revise one chapter. Ignore email, Facebook, Cracked.com, Twitter and Tumblr and just do what I need to do. Even if I have to do that old mental trick and copy the new version into a notebook by hand with the old one up for reference (I know it’s usually the other way around but I feel like it would work). I guess I’ll have to find out.

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~ by Amber on June 23, 2015.

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