Good morning! It’s Wednesday at 10ish AM and I am not working. Instead, I am slacking and writing on this blog. Why? Because I feel brain dead, that’s why.
Seriously though, I work from home. I have my own business. While my husband is off, programming his way to riches beyond our wildest dreams (haha), I stay home and write blog posts and articles for other people. In fact, I have four blog posts, three articles and an email to write. Actually, I have more than that, but that’s what I have on my “To Do” list today. But, I can’t get my mind wrapped around my work. I have been bashing my head against the table trying to get my mind on my work all week long.
Why? Did I drink too much on St. Patrick’s Day and now have a week-long hangover? Am I just really shitty at self motivation? What is it?
Here’s the problem. This is the story of my goddamned life: I started writing my fiction again.
I followed Mur Lafferty’s advice on I Should be Writing and I started logging my word count in The Magic Spreadsheet and I am now determined to finish the book I’m working on with my mom, the novel I have been writing for YEARS, the YA novel that I already wrote but probably needs a rewrite, and to submit two short stories a week until I run out of short stories in my back list. Also, I decided that in April I’m going to try to figure out a theme that is something I like to write in, work on about 40,000 words of short stories, edit the hell out of them, and then collect them together in ebook form to sell on Amazon and whoever else will take me. I’m even considering writing an extra special one and recording it podcast-style and making it a teaser for my collection.
“What’s wrong with that?” you may ask. Others may say: “That all sounds amazing – go you!”
Yeah, well, here are the problems:
1. I am scared I’m not good enough.
This will make me sound like I’m manic depressive, but I swear it’s only my writing where I go through this arc in my writing. Here goes:
Step 2: I reread my work. I think, Oh my god. This is fucking genius. Everyone will love, understand and accept this work. I will win a Nebula, a Hugo, a Bram Stoker, the Campbell. There can be only one and I am she.
Step 3: I HOPEFULLY DO NOT SUBMIT THIS STORY TO ANYONE ANYWHERE.
If I have submitted, I am assailed by doubts immediately. Is that story really good? It’s probably a piece of shit and I’m too close to it to see. That editor will blacklist me forever. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!?! Oh, the humanity.
If I have done the sensible thing, I have set it aside for later rereading.
Step 4: I have received a rejection or have decided to edit it. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this story? Am I insane? Mentally challenged? On drugs? I don’t even know how to edit this. It needs to be rewritten.
Step 5: Okay, it’s been rewritten, I can edit it now. I edit. And edit. And edit again. I hate this story. I hate editing. I am a terrible writer. But, it’s the best I can get it.
Step 6: I submit the story. I am now so sick of the damn thing I can’t even look at it. I hope someone else likes it.
Step 7: It gets rejected. I edit it or change the title or do something else to try to make it better. I submit it somewhere else.
Rinse and repeat.
That is my writing process. Why does this interfere with my work? Theoretically, once I am done with a project, or even done with that project for the day, I should be able to focus on other things. That brings me to my other problem:
2. When I start writing, I don’t want to stop until my fingers have turned to bone, my eyesight is gone and I’ve become a hunchback.
My head is always in a story when I have begun writing. For the first few days, I’m fine. I can go about my day to day tasks with no problem. I can zone out and listen to other people’s stories, I can watch TV, I can work. But there is a point where my mind changes and all I want to do is plot, characterize, and write my story. I ask myself – did I create that guy as a red shirt? Oh no, what is her motivation? Would this story be more interesting if the prince was really a princess? What if snackfood tried to take over the world? Why the hell does my character want to do that? Do you think he’ll fall in love with the evil one, or the good one? Should he fall in love at all? What if a guy was stuck in space with limited oxygen? What if there were space animals, like in Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monete’s stories?
And then I try to write about down to earth topics for my clients.
I have crutches which help me realize I’m not horrible – like The I Should be Writing Podcast, like George Takei on Facebook, like my friends and family who patiently read or listen to me read my stories. But, that doesn’t help me stop thinking about my fiction. What I really need is a month completely free of all responsibility to focus entirely on my writing. But, would I write or would I get burnt out just doing my fiction all month? Would I just be sitting and watching Star Trek reruns on Netflix? I don’t know, and I probably won’t until I get a chance to make fiction writing my full time job.
This probably will not help anyone at all – but if anyone goes through what I go through in their writing process, let me know. I would love to commiserate.
Back to work with me.