Alright, so I haven’t been updating my short story project lately. It isn’t because I don’t enjoy them, they’re fun to write. It’s not because I don’t have anything to post, I have like three stories in the file that just need to be edited. It’s because….
(You’re never gonna guess.)
My crippling self-doubt, yaaaay!
“Really, Bacon?” you say. “Didn’t you already write a post or two about this?”
Well, I probably did, but I have some new thoughts. So let me get to my point by way of a round-about story.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that my writing life has been hell for about two years now. I am Murphy’s Law. If it can blow up in my face and cripple me emotionally, you better believe it will and then laugh as I try to crawl back up. Sorry, no gory details because those wounds still sting. Sometimes it does get better, sometimes you can use that anger to beat everything back and move forward. But sometimes you keep getting beaten down and beaten down and beaten down, and that anger dies and becomes a ghost that haunts you with its creation.
You think about it before you go to sleep. You think about it every time you open a document. You think about it every time you hit send on a query. You think about it in the shower, while driving, at work, while eating, while reading, while you’re on the freaking toilet.
It gets to the point where you look for help, you ask anyone you can to help drag you out of the pit and you get the same, meaningless advice. And it’s equally awful to get, “You’ll get there!” as, “Why don’t you just quit?” Because you want permission to stop but you also want to find a reason to keep going and it’s this awful limbo.
So I’m a part of this Twitter DM group, and I I expressed my despair awhile back. It felt like they said (note that I’m emotionally constipated and what they said and what I heard could easily be two different things), “But you’ve gotten into Pitch Wars (a fairly large competition) twice! And you got into those other contests! And you made it into that writing retreat where they only accepted so many applicants! How can you feel this way?”
Which made me angry. And depressed. So I kinda slunk out the back door and ate too much chocolate and had a lot of good crying and played too many video games. (Because I’m a child, apparently.) They just didn’t get it. Sure, I got into these things, but I’ve never made it any farther no matter how hard I try. No one actually cares about the words I’ve written. I’ve gotten to the point I wonder if any of my critique partners give a damn.
And that brings me to today. I’m still at a low point. It’s hard to think about writing. Hope is a dangerous drug I’d like to ignore, please and thank you. But this morning I saw there were new messages I will probably ignore in the Twitter group, and then in the next second I saw Victoria Schwab’s post on being an “overnight success.” And I naturally I got a couple paragraphs in and huffed and puffed when I saw that she got an agent on her first book (I’ve written six or seven books in at least in as many years of taking this business seriously, with one agent that didn’t stay for very long), and then it hit me. I’m feeling the same way that Twitter group felt when they saw me despairing. I’d hit the level of “success” they’d dreamed of. And there I was whining and complaining I hadn’t gone far enough.
Does that make my struggle any less real? No. But it brought what I’ve been able to accomplish back into focus. I have done some things to be a little proud of and to be thankful for. And maybe if there’s someone actually reading this word vomit, maybe you’re thinking, “Well whoop-dee-do, you’ve done more than me and you’re just realizing it. What a special snowflake you are.”
Some day you might be in my shoes. You might be in my shoes right now, observing my spoiled-bratty-ness. I’m sure you’ve done something worth being proud of. Maybe you’ve gotten a request for a full manuscript. Maybe you’ve found a critique partner that loves your words. And above that, maybe you’ve written. I know that fact becomes static when you’re surrounded by writers oozing out of every corner of the internet, but take this from a writer who hasn’t made it anywhere near the top: go walk down a crowded street and remind yourself that you may be the only one there who can call themselves a writer. That’s something.
If you don’t learn how to be proud of what you’ve done right now, you’re going to be miserable. Because life sucks. Writing sucks even more. And if you don’t believe what you’ve done matters, no one else is going to do that for you.
It really made me understand what those authors mean when they say that having a book deal or an agent changes nothing. Because on a subconscious level, I still think it has to change something.
But it doesn’t change enough to matter. There’s nothing that will magically make you “enough.” You do that.
So maybe think about this for awhile. Maybe don’t. It’s up to you. If you’ve stalked me long enough, you know that I write in an attempt to bring a little itty bitty piece of magic into the world, and I’m still not sure my writing does that so I don’t know where I stand. But maybe me rambling out my feelings will help somebody else.