Pick your poison.

I’ve been reflecting on my own failings a lot recently but I tend to take little tiny baby steps to the overall realisation of what it is I am doing wrong. Easing myself into the tepid waters, so to speak. So, when reading the blog post by Tia Bach (author of Depression Cookies) for her Row80 update, I felt such a resonance with my own issue.

I’m not published as she is, which is what she refers to: the fear following one book being published (“can I repeat this?”), but I still have that fear of creating nagging at me. It’s something I’m loathe to verbalise and have only shared with a few, but now it’s out there. I’m sharing it, I’m breaking it down into bite sized chunks and imploring everyone to take a piece, if only to make the fear that little bit easier to manage.

I don’t worry about creating ideas, they seem to crowd me freely. They interrupt my sleep, walk with me in the daylight, hold me like a friend – they are tangible in many respects, and very much a part of who I am and what I know. I learn from them as I would from a real friend or family member. The ideas produce people I can relate to, people I can dislike, people I want to know more about… they have lives and passions far greater than mine. Or maybe they are my passions since writers put at least a little of themselves in every character.

No, it’s not the ideas that concern me. It is the creating. The expectation that, when the ideas are complete, I then have to make them pretty and presentable. I have to make them sound well structured and coherent, with perfect plots and authentic characters. I have to create something that will feel original – no cheap imitations here please. I want to be proud of what I create and I want anyone who may read it to be surprised that it came from me (this is more aimed at those that have known me for years and wouldn’t believe I could make it work).

But it’s that need to create something that I can be proud of that holds me back, throwing up obstacles that I find hard to dodge. I spend hours instead doing other meaningless things, despite the character’s journey enticing me, offering new solutions to previously unsolvable problems. They want me back. The characters in The Never Ending Story are unable to move forwards if Bastian does not continue to read, leaving them eternally suspended in fear of The Nothing; and I too leave my characters unable to fulfill their destiny because I show fear. I let pride prevent me from pushing through any roadblocks and I prove myself a failure before I even begin.

But that’s not what I want! I want to scream it. I want to shout to the world that I do not want to give up. There are too many things I want to write, there are so many journeys I can’t wait to take, and there is nothing else that I can see fulfilling me. If I remove my aspirations as an author, a publisher and teacher of the craft, then I have nothing. I’d feel hollow and alone. Without the blanket of words I shroud myself in, I have nothing but darkness – a bleak and unfulfilling emptiness that will consume me from the inside.

If I take that away from me, if I stop creating, I have no purpose or direction. I belong nowhere and will surely feel nothing as it is inspiration that always guides me.

Thank you to my good friend Rebecca Galardo at the Free Hippie shop who creates stamped talismans so that I can keep such reminders with me always. My current order will read: “Live by intuition and inspiration” which is from the quote:

Cease trying to work everything out with your minds. It will get you nowhere. Live by intuition and inspiration and let your whole life be Revelation.
Eileen Caddy


If anyone has any other suggestions or mind tricks that will help me push through those horrible feelings when they’re at their worst, I’d greatly appreciate it.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Pick your poison.

  1. Left-Brained Business for Write-Brained People

    I continually tie a gag around the mouth of my internal editor. She keeps ripping it off at the most inopportune moments, however, so I’m thinking about using duct tape instead. Blasted internal editor!

    Liked you post. I think you can tell that I related to what you said

  2. Hi Kelly,

    I can relate to this. What you’re describing perfectly here is the creative life. Without the writing, like you, I’d feel like I’d no purpose. It underpins everything you do and everything you think you are – but it doesn’t seem to matter if I publish or not, so long as I’m writing. I keep a diary that no one will ever read, I mean ever, and when I can’t write anywhere else, an hour with the diary eases the pressure. It’s a deeply psychological business – maybe even spiritual. Have you been over to the Demon Muse (http://www.demonmuse.com/)? There are some ideas on the inner aspects of writing that you might find interesting – worth a skim perhaps.

    Thanks for the recent likes and reblogs!

    Regards

    Michael

    • I did used to keep a diary of sorts but it seemed to fall into disuse. I still have a pad by my bed for dreams or thoughts that prevent me from sleeping (different issue) which helps in that respect. But hasn’t made much of an impact in the writing on my WIP.

      As I say, ideas aren’t a problem, it’s the finishing a draft. I’ve done it a couple of times but I ended up hating both to dread the editing process. I think both were really a case of working out what process works best for me.

      This draft is working far better – more coherent and flows well (for a draft anyway) but then BAM – as much as I want to force myself to write, I keep putting it off.

      Thank you for the link, I have bookmarked it and will have a browse tonight (hopefully not as a form of procrastination).

      • Hi Kelly, I understand about the editing – I must go through my stories a hundred times, but if all you’re seeing is commas and double line spacing, it can feel a bit mechanical. I like to keep the voice of the characters in my head as I go along each time, not being afraid to change what they’re saying or doing, if I feel they want me to. That way it keeps things alive, creatively, and the commas take care of themselves (I hope). Good luck with the work, but above all be kind to yourself.

        BTW. A paper diary? Scary – mine’s electronic and encrypted – especially the dream one.

        Regards

        Michael

  3. I love paper books. I had a faux leather bound journal which I loved as it was so nice to write in, but yes. You have to constantly worry about ‘what if someone reads it’… I don’t like the idea of writing a journal on the computer though. I like the process of handwriting – it feels more cathartic somehow. The way your hand aches when you’ve written too much, the way penmanship changes depending on how quickly you write… I like that process. I just wouldn’t write my novels that way these days as that would be a pain in the arse. Though I do take a porfolio with ideas for chapters jotted down in case I get chance at work to write, but I often just read instead.

    • Yep, I can relate to that as well. I collect notebooks – also interesting pens. I understand what you mean about writing a journal on the computer – perhaps a bit impersonal – but its security makes me more comfortable confiding in it. I remember penning my first novels, and then typing them – how I managed without a delete button, I’ll never know!

      • There’s an awful lot of relating going on – I feel very well understood 😀 Woo! Partner in crime?

        Yes, security is good but I’m a very insular person at the moment. I rarely have people at home (I live on my own) and there are few that I regularly spend time with (most of them I could probably deal with knowing my ‘secrets’ anyway), so hiding my thoughts aren’t really so important at the moment. I imagine that would change if I started a relationship or something, I don’t see that happening any time soon so freedom all around!

        I do remember writing a lot of short stories by hand. Any novels though were done chapter by chapter. They’re only really hand written now when I’m not at home as I don’t like using a laptop in public – I find it’s far too easy for people to read what you write (I know because I’ve seen too).

  4. My post about fear was so hard to write, but I was at a place where fear was keeping me back. Something about putting it out there freed me from the heaviness of it (not completed freed, but lifted the weight). I hope it did the same for you.

    I, like you, have plenty of ideas and good intentions, but when life starts acting up and time gets mean, I tend to let fear slip in.

    Here’s to holding fear at bay and doing what we love to do!!

    • I feel better for having voiced it – to make it known does make it less of a burden. Particularly as a number of people have stepped forward and shared similar feelings.

      I still have a way to go yet but I’ll get there. I know it’s only me that stands in my way now. Just me and that ‘voice’ in my head… pesky little thing.

      And yet, I know it’s what I want. Why are we so self
      destructive?

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