I’ve been absent from my blog for the last several weeks, but not from writing. I started writing Morning Pages (essentially a journaling exercise), documenting and observing in my beautiful Moleskine notebook, creating unexpected art, and (of utmost importance) have been writing The Book. It’s NaNoWriMo and I’ve been riding that energy, but yesterday was awful. Although I have completed 1 section (there are 5 total) I was arrogant (read: stupid) enough to think I could get the whole book drafted this month. I thought this until I’d sent the first section to some friends for review and sat down to start the second section.
The chirping of crickets filled my ears, my head, my soul, accompanied by the BWAHAHAHAHAHAH of the inner critic, and the absolute truth that what I was writing was total shit.
This is the first time I’ve ever hit this particular wall, and I am now fully aware of why it’s so cold and heartbreaking. That self-doubt (I can’t say this well, my writing is crap, this story is stupid, I’m an idiot, other people will be hurt/mad/whatever) carried over into every aspect of my life. My interactions with people were yuck, I bailed on an event I’d paid for, and tried to fall asleep at 7:30 in the evening to avoid having to think.
It was horrendous.
Today, I’m facing the reality that I will not complete all five sections by the end of November – I have no idea when I’ll complete them. The sense of urgency to finish – to get the work into the world – has only increased, but I feel like my capacity is diminished. I’m also taking the opportunity to thrash myself a bit for wasting all this precious time. “You’ll never have another opportunity like this!” say the voices. “How many people get the luxury of time between jobs to create?” say the voices. “This topic is so relevant, so timely, HOW ARE YOU NOT DONE YET?!” scream the voices. “What makes you think that what you’re saying is real? What if you’re a delusional psycho?” whisper the voices.
I’ve had similar experiences in other areas of my life, and I have to believe the same axiom holds:
That last bit isn’t traditional, but it’s honest.
Today is…important, I think. I sent the first 4000 words of my novel to my first readers. I’ve sent bits and pieces to folks over the last few months, but this is a solid, cohesive chunk of the book. I know, in my mind, that this is a “big deal,” but the feelings probably won’t set in until I hear back from…The Readers.
I suppose what I’m thinking is normal. That I wrote too much, was rambling and chaotic, pedantic and pontificating, and generally couldn’t organize one spoon in an empty drawer. The piece that gnaws at me most is that I’m not writing a purely academic piece or doing a literature review, but it would be easy to fall into that trap. It would be easy to drop into academic mode, but it wouldn’t be good. And, ultimately, I would be bored.
But putting forth an idea grown out of my own brain, with no formal research or literature propping it up is scary. I worry if it’s already out there somewhere, or if it’s just pure bullshit. The people I’ve shown it to so far love it and believe it’s important, and I do too. I feel pretty satisfied so far – I think I’ve done a far job for a first pass. But the sense of urgency is strong and now that I have a sense of the process, I’m impatient to keep moving.
I haven’t been blogging much, I’ve been working on a manuscript about my experience working as a corrections educator. I’ve started writing the narrative and it’s gone well when I’ve been able to sit down and write. But I haven’t been writing as much as I need to, as much as I want to. I can’t tell if I’m distracting myself, or if it’s just a phase – a flurry of activity from the world outside my writing.
I suppose this is part of why so many writers, artists, and musicians isolate themselves when they need to create. Although I love my life and my friends and all the wonderful things around me, they intrude on my bandwidth, take away that precious focus I need to generate the good stuff.
This is an entirely new experience for me.
Most of my life the last several years has revolved around my friends, dancing, and my social life. It is disconcerting to feel alone, to hear some small voice whispering “you could be writing,” even while I thoroughly enjoy my time with my friends. I feel like I’m in some unknown place, surrounded by a mist that lives and breathes, parting to let me see through, but not for long.