No flash fiction challenge today, or photos, or anything like that. Just some thoughts that I figured I’d jot down and send off into the ether. Part of why I want to be a writer is to help folks when they’re feeling down, let them know they aren’t alone, especially when it comes to fun things like anxiety or depression, so it really doesn’t do much good if I clam up when things get dark in my own brain spaces, even though the fact I can write about it at all means that I’m heading towards the light, so to speak.
I’ve been really down, on myself and my writing, for the last few weeks, and I hadn’t been able to figure out why. I’ve gotten a few rejections sure, but constant rejection really is part of being a writer. Rejections are the the tedious random encounters in a video game, the XP farming so you can level up to fight the boss. You take the hits as long as you can, go back to town and heal up, and then head back out, cheerfully ready for the thousands of paper cuts that build the scars that become your armor.
Which is a long winded way of saying, that’s not it. Rejections are a moment to revise, to create something new, to build up and go again. But every time I try to write anything, especially connected to a specific story world, I get clogged up. I get a few hundred words, at most, and then I lose the thread for days. Random scraps of nothing. Then it hit me. The last piece I got critiqued at a workshop. I’d like to say it got savaged (it didn’t). It’d like to say it was unfair (All the points against it were valid). Really, the story itself was fundamentally flawed, even though it’s some of the best prose I’ve written to date.
Doing my best and worst simultaneously cut deeper than any rejection. It poisoned not only that story, but the entire story world that I built around it. I became afraid. Afraid of ruining this thing I loved. So I’d false start and run away. I’d bury it deep, only pulling it back to the surface when the guilt of not writing anything overwhelmed me. Somehow that poisoned the act of writing itself, keeping me from being able to put anything into words at all. Every world in my head, barred from me with frosted glass, clear enough that I could see the shape of the things, but not be able to describe them.
This was when the rejections started to sting more, when the brain weasels got louder. Not only did a market not want my story, but they probably never wanted me to submit anything again (even though that was never mentioned in the polite form rejections). Every few days I’d decide that I should quit writing, and then I’d remind myself about Viable Paradise (hashtag humblebrag) and realize that I couldn’t quit until then, at the very least.
Oddly enough, now that VP is approaching, I’ve felt the urge to quit stronger than ever. Not good enough. Imposter. Failure. Brain weasels working double time. But then I start thinking about NaNoWriMo, and cracks start to form at the edges of the glass barrier. I can see the shapes of things again, of the worlds I want to write.
I’m not writing right any prose for the next few days, and that’s ok (especially since I’m super-congested and feel like I’m heading towards a sinus infection that needs to be gone in a week). I’m tossing aside the guilt. I’ll go to VP20, I’ll reset, and I’ll come back strong.
My brain, when it’s working properly, is wired to work towards goals. VP is one, NaNo another, and there’s a writer’s conference next year in Dallas that offers a pitch meeting w/ an agent or editor, and that seems like the kind of thing to kick my ass in gear for the next few months.
Which is a long way of saying that I’ll be at DFWCon2017 😛
I know this a long and rambling and I complain about problems that don’t really measure up to much in the grand scheme of things, but damnit, I kinda needed to get this out there. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, it helps you out somehow, even if it just lets you say that you’ve got your shit together better than someone (me).
Peace, love, and cough medicine,