Not so free after all . . .
I am happy to say that I am DONE with my finals and until next semester, all that school related hoopla. Yes readers, this lucky gal has now been freed to utilize her time as SHE wishes, be it dabbling in artistic endeavors or the more probable past-time, holding long and meaningful conversations with her dog. I should succumb to the utter joy that is idleness, filling my days with brain rotting television and youtube and junk food, right?
Now it’s crunch time. Now I can’t say that I don’t have time to write or that I’ve been so tired from my work and school related duties that I just–haven’t–been–writing.
Both are legitimate excuses, yes. Now? I’m excuse-less. And I’m fully and painfully aware that with each passing second of my now free time, I am neglecting my craft. How can I improve if I won’t write? And what sort of hypocrite yells at her readers to write ALL the time when she herself hasn’t written anything substantial in oh, maybe three months or so?
To my readers, if any, I’m sorry. My hypocrisy was and is not intentional. Allow me to maybe, perhaps explain some reasons why I haven’t been keeping to pace with my writing.
1. No inspiration and some other fears
I’ve been done with my first novel, technically, for about a year or so now (which does not include all the troubleshooting, editing, revising that accompanies the publishing process and is still ongoing). So according to Steven King, who says you should be able to complete a novel in 3 months, I’m four books behind schedule. Which is extremely disheartening and already makes me extremely ashamed of at least not drafting a couple new ideas by now . . .
My main and somewhat related point here is that I’m afraid I’ll end up being a one trick pony. Any time I’ve attempted to write something new, I find myself correlating characters or themes from the first novel. “Oh, that’s something Michelle would say” or “Crap, that is too” which slowly devolves into “Why am I even bothering when the first book hasn’t even been released yet?” It’s extremely frustrating to discern what I want to write about, what is important and what needs to be said. I want to make a difference. I want to write something that helps people, that inspires them, that even if they despised the entirety of the novel will find in it some redeemable quality that in some freakin’ way changed their life. I want to my writing to matter. And all I can seem to think about is Paper Hearts: when it’s coming out, what I need to do between now and then, contemplating what needs changing, agonizing over every little paragraph and having pre-publication panic attacks about how awfully/well it will be received. I shit you not, I am seeing my manuscript in my sleep. I woke up at 2 a.m. a few months ago, remembered one WORD that needed changing, wrote it down before passing back out, and then the next day proceeded to reread the entire 288 pages and fix even more stuff, even though I’d already submitted my edited manuscript.
I just don’t know what to write. And as an aspiring novelist, that is beyond frightening. I want to make a living at this yet I can’t even get past my first book? It’s terrifying and scary and frustrating and upsetting . . . What’s worse is that some of my favorite authors have oh, THIRTY books published and they’re only twice my age! But me? One. Yep, just the one. And at this rate it will remain just the one. How they manage to craft such brilliant prose again and again or how they flesh out a diverse range of characters to such perfection is beyond my small understanding. It’s insane. I don’t know if I have that sort of talent or if I have the propensity to hone such talent.
I don’t know. I just don’t know.
All this hasn’t been for a lack of trying. I’ve been doing any sort of creativity sparking activities that I can think of. I’ve been eavesdropping on people to better my dialogue. I’ve looked up character personality types and have tried to derive some characters from each. I’ve tried to completely dissever any aspect of Paper Hearts in my head from any new or possible projects, whether it be physical appearances or personalities, themes or settings. I’ve been trying and I’ve been failing.
I’ve always been told write what you know. And really, I know nothing. I’m not even legal to drink yet. I haven’t lived a privileged life or even a rich, fulfilled one. I’m not innately brilliant. Whatever I write is work and research and editing and more revising and more research. I wish I could say I was naturally gifted but I’m not. I hammer out a simple idea from a simple basis because I am a simple person. This pity party isn’t being thrown to annoy you all but hopefully let you understand the immense worry and frustration I’ve been experiencing.
This post was supposed to be happier.