The Worst of Me

For the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to write a novel. If you’ve met me, you know I’m pretty much always trying to write a novel, but I’ve recently buckled down on a series I’ve been working on since the 10th grade. When you quit your job you tend to find lots of things to fill your time (WHEN will Chandler and Monica FINALLY get together??), and plowing through this book is one of the ways I’ve decided to fill the dead air.

I found myself a group of Alpha readers, people I trust to not only motivate me, but to treat me like a princess along the way. I haven’t met a writer without an ego, and while mine is occasionally highly inflated it’s easily punctured. If you’ve found a sentence that could be better, don’t worry, I have too, and I’ve berated myself over it again and again and again. If you think a post could be a little stronger, I’ve considered scraping the entire blog, wiping my hard drive, selling my laptop, and accepting my fate in data entry for the rest of my life.

This part of me, the highly volatile part that begs me to eat cookies at midnight and screams that “AT LEAST STEPHANIE MEYER IS PUBLISHED,” is one of the hardest things to combat every time I sit down to write. She’s the reason that instead of opening the document, I open a new tab and look up Creative Writing MFA programs, because just a little more training and we’ll be ready. She reads the first few lines and groans at the lack of imagery, the weak characters, the tropes, the half-finished thoughts. Last night, after seeing far too many stupid, stupid parts, she managed to convince me that the entire project was a bust–that as a white, 25-year-old from the ‘burbs I couldn’t write for anything, couldn’t dream of successfully pulling off a mixed-race main character, would be laughed out of any agents office. She scoffed as I pushed through a sentence, finding every characterization a mistake, worse a stereotype. Not only was I terrible writer, but apparently I was racist too.

It’s hard not to listen to her. She’d pretty damn loud some days, and other days she really does have a point. She will always have something to say, and sometimes she really will be right to say them. But listening to her, letting her win, is the easy way out.

She is the lazy, worst parts of me. In her ideal world I’d write half of an entirely white-cast Harry Potter fanfiction and then go out for ice cream. She likes writing, sure, but she wants it to be easy. She looks at the mountain and wonders where the road around it is.

This entire endeavor is terrifying. I am confident I will make mistakes, and somedays, with that knowledge bumping around in my head, every sentence is difficult. You will fail, better quit now.

Ignore her. Stand up from your desk and stomp on her.

And when your roommate knocks to ask if everything is ok, sit back down and power through. Don’t let the worst of you win. She’s an old hag who’s never published anything anyway.

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