I am my biggest and worst critic. Anything a hater has or will say to me, I’ve said to myself and mulled over a million times before. This does not mean I’m impervious, it means I need to lighten up. I beat myself up over writing the most. I’m not writing enough, I’m not producing enough, I haven’t published enough, I’m not good enough or driven enough or inventive enough. I just don’t have it in me.
I can talk my self into all kinds of corners. I can rationalize not writing, I can get started on a major project just to get lost in the weeds, or realize that something isn’t working and I’ve written myself into a corner. The times where writing feels amazing, feels easy like sledding down a hill (no give, pure joy), are rare. But frequent enough that I’m always on the hunt for that perfect writer’s high. I’ve tasted it enough times to know it exists.
When I was working from home I wrote only to survive. I wrote only to finish my next project, to propel my career to the next step, to finish deadlines by the skin of my teeth. It wasn’t joyful, it was stressful, and none of my real writing got done. Real like novels and stories and everything that I do best (really, I do). I had no motivation because I was overwhelmed with the day itself. And I let my own projects slide, I let them sit and the plots get fuzzy in my mind.
And then with the help of Margaret, always with the help of Margaret, I started up again, I opened up the file, I un-crumpled a stack of paper, I smoothed it out and started typing, picked up my pen. And guess what? Space is a beautiful thing. Space allows you to cut and edit and re-write and see the holes and fill the holes. It allows you to breath, to not feel so claustrophobic about all of the parts and words and scenes that you lovelovelove. You love them so much how can you ever letthemgo.
But you have to, you must, or the story will die. It will shrivel up right there and it will die. Probably a slow painful death of being forced to fit through a square hole when, indeed, it is a giant messy blob. Nothing like a square at all. The story that you can’t see because it is too close to you will suffocate you until you are forced to back away, to push it away, to run in the opposite direction just to get some freaking air.
It is lovely. It is freeing. It’s exciting because I think I’m about to finish something that turned out to be pretty good. It went from something that was amateur to something beautiful because I stepped away from it. Victory. It’s a success even without publication (that will come in time), because I am not being tortured by words and I am not trapped by what I wanted it to be, I’m working with what it is.
And here is another truth: Every January Kamel and I make goals for the new year. Last year our goal was to survive the wedding and get married. Check and check. The year before that we wanted to go on a sail boat (check), go to a concert (nope), host a house warming party (nope again), and a bunch of other things I can’t remember. This year we have 5 things, and I’m sure you’ll hear about them with time. But one of the things is for me to finally, finally, finally self publish a small collection of short stories. Probably around 5 of them. We’re going to publish the collection on E-platforms (to be determined) and in a real life version through the blog. This is happening. The stories are almost finished, a title and design are on their way.
Things don’t always happen as quickly as I want them to. Sometimes you have to live more life before things can get crossed off the list. So a project I wanted to finish in early 2011 will be done sometime in 2012. Better than if it had been rushed, or slapped together and I’m really, really excited.