Emo to the max

My relationship with my own writing is pretty tempestuous.

Sometimes we’re in love.  Sometimes it’s easy to make the words flow and I know I’m doing good work and I get almost drunk on my ability to create whole worlds out of language.  I start to dream up grand plans for the day when I’m famous and I can walk into a bookstore and see my own name on a shelf.  My work will be so well-received that Hollywood will buy the rights.  Oh, it will be glorious.  I’ll be witty and sarcastic on writing panels at cons, building a fan base of nerds like me with an equally dark sense of humor.  My opinion will matter.  People will love me for being so eccentric.  I’ll stop wondering whether my parents secretly feel like I was a superfluous addition to the family.

Then there’s the rest of the time.  Today, right now.  When I feel like the writing is so difficult that it can’t be anything but a chore to read.  That no one could possibly have any interest in the stories I have to tell, the things I have to say.  Because I’m just that tedious.

Usually, when this mood strikes, I stop writing for a few months and seriously ask myself whether I’ll ever bother again.  All emowangst style.  Today, however, the universe stood up and said no.  The universe instead showered my writing with praise from multiple sources on a previously unrealized scale.  The universe said, “Hey.  Alyssa.  Get over yourself and get back to telling stories.  You’re good at it.”

Thanks, universe.  I needed that.

Advertisements

Just write

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”
— Alan Watts

Let’s do this

I’ve never been one for deadlines.

Hell, I’m not really one for plans.  Of any kind.  It wouldn’t be accurate to say I have a fear of commitment – I’ve been with the same partner for more than half my life, at this point, and never at any time was I afraid of committing to him – but I do definitely object to having my future nailed down.  I’m the asshole who never RSVPs.  I don’t even want to think about what I’m going to have for dinner until it’s time to actually eat it.

Accepting a deadline has always felt like another way the future makes you promise to be in a certain place at a certain time, and I prefer to keep my options open.  Making goals, same thing.

If I buy a beautiful steak to grill for dinner, but come 6 o’clock I find I can’t stand the sight of red meat, I’ve wasted money and a prime cut.  If I say I’m coming to your party, but then an unanticipated attack of autistic overload that afternoon means I can’t be around people, I’m a jerk for standing you up.  If I say I’ll have your article written by Friday, but then writer’s block prevents a single good idea from forming in my brain before then, I’m fired and I don’t get paid.

Better to keep things fluid, I’ve always thought.  Especially when it comes to writing.  Nothing shuts down my creativity harder than a deadline.  Knowing that my work is expected, that someone is waiting for it, that there are stakes, that something is on the line – kills my Muse stone dead.

Sounds like I think I’m some sort of free-spirit hippie, I know.  That’s not really it either.  Truth is, I’m just contrary.  I’m just a grouchy, solitary individual, and I want things the way I want them.  I don’t ask things of others, and in turn I don’t want anyone feeling like they have the right to expect things of me.  (I am aware that this is a deeply moronic way to live.  Shut up.)

So it really means something when I say that I’ve made a decision to finish my novel this year, no matter what.

As far as my writing goes, well.  I’ve never been in any rush.  I started very young, with plenty of time to meet all of those big writer goals.  It has always just been a fact that I would take my time, improve, write some things, write some better things, and someday someone would publish something of mine that was worth it.  No rush.  The last time I was submitting for publication, it didn’t really matter that I met with no success, because there was still time.  And I can’t even say I really gave it as much effort as I could have.  It’d happen some time, and until then, I’d just keep writing.  Something must have changed for me, though, because now when I think about finishing this novel and getting it published, the feeling is no longer no rush.  Now it’s more like no time like the present.

Really it’s just that there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to.  After a long dry spell, I’m productive again.  I’ve written more than ten thousand words in the last three weeks.  That’s not even an especially impressive word count.  Assuming I can only do just that much, if not more, there is no reason why a zero draft of this novel shouldn’t be a thing people can read before 2012 ends.  And then, an actual attempt at actual publication.

I’ve Decided.