Friday, April 20, 2007

Facing your demons

There are times when I just need to look into the eye of the fear that lurks in my subconscious and give it a name -- identify it for what it is -- accept its possibility. Then, I need to move on.

This is one of those times.

There are days when I wonder what the hell I'm doing trying to write this book -- or any book for that matter. What makes me think I could tell a story that anyone would want to read? I won't ask what makes me think I can write. It would be false modesty to say that I didn't realize I could organize words on a page in a way that compelled readers. But....that's not the same as telling a story.

Fear #1: What if can't tell a story? Or worse, what if I tell it and it's really bad and I've spent all this time believing I could do something I couldn't?

My life is a hectic, overscheduled mess sometimes. I really don't know how to trim it down. I've done most of what I can -- short of quitting a job that pays half the bills. My job, huh, requires a high degree of commitment and time, comes with very little respect and equally little pay, and alot of overtime with no extra dinero. Before you call me an idiot for doing such a job, I just want to say that, really, there isn't anything I could do that is more important. I believe you have to use the gifts you have. I am. But I also want to write. Eighteen hour days are not condusive to writing (or washing clothes or grocery shopping). Often, when I write, I'm dog-tired, I have no idea what I last wrote, it's completely disorganzed because I get five minutes here or there, or my head bounces off the keyboard -- literally. That brings me to....

Fear #2: What if I can't finish? What if it just never comes out quite right? What if I stay mired down in a endless loop of rewrite, refigure, replot, rehash? What if next year at this time I'm still not quite to act 3? What if I still haven't quite figured out exactly where that is (see fear #1 about storytelling)?

Part of me says wait until you have time. Ha. I'll never have that unless I prove myself now and actually sell -- enough to quit the all-important, but high burn-out job I have.

Fear #3: What if it's just too much? What if I can't do it all? What if I'm never going to realize my dream because all the "must do's" get in the way of the "want to do's"?

All these demons play with my nerves. My heart is pounding with the ferocity of having just run a marathon. The fear ignited my adrenaline and I want to fight or flee. Part of me says "run" - far away -- so that the fear can't follow. But the realistic part of me knows I'll stay and fight the fears and keep plugging away.

I'll just reread a favorite quote and keep plugging away.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt

I've named my fears, faced my demons. I've invited the little whisperers of half truths and white lies out and called them what they are -- fear. Isn't identifying the enemy a good place to start the war? While I may not be able to kick their butts tonight, I will keep hammering at them. I'll keep getting in the ring. I can do it.



Alyson Love said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alyson Love said...

Hi Macy. First, I love that quote! I felt like you put it up there just for me as I was wrestling around with synthesizing crits when I read it, and thinking, "When I revise my entire manuscript, I'm going to have so much to do -- finishing the MIP is just a small step in the entire process. There is still much to do, and will I make it?" Anyway, yes-- your day job is VERY important. But you will figure out a way to finish your MIP and as soon as you do, I'm pretty sure you'll get published your first time out. You write that well. And while writing words on a page may come easier, you are blessed with also being a good storyteller SO tell your demons and inner critic to shut the f&%!k up and get on with it-- no more starting over!

Hang in there, and believe --