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20 January 2006

Doubting Celise

Before I switched over here from Live Journal, a writer on my friends list had posted one of those "You know you're a writer when..." things. One of the points was,

"You know you're a writer when....you have regular breakdowns regarding the quality of your work and the futility of an actual career."

Too true. I have these about once a month. I had one yesterday. Actually, it started the day before and then snuck up on me yesterday and started slapping me around. The same writer that posted this list referenced another writer in her entry. I'd never read her stuff, so I thought I might click on it and see what she was all about. In one of her posts she said that she has a day job, no children, a 4-H club thing and she's a newlywed...and she's almost done with the first draft of her book. Hmm. Kinda sounds like me (minus the 4-H thing, and being done w/ the first draft). I emailed her and asked when she made time to write. She wrote me back and said she makes writing a priority. That she usually hits the computer right after dinner and is on it until 10 or 11. Writing is her priority.

Once again, I'm reminded of what I'm not doing myself. Last year, I had quit a PT night job at Crate and Barrel to get on a more consistent writing schedule. A schedule that included writing at night and 4 pages a day. The 4 pages a day was scrapped after a couple of weeks and working at night turned into writing for an hour on my lunch break. When I come home from work, I'm on the computer. But not writing. I would be checking my 4 different emails, some of which had links to interesting websites, which led to other interesting websites....and so on. And that's when it hit me. There's one thing I have that the other writer doesn't have...her own business. My Writer's A.D.D. (a condition in which a writer gets distracted and focuses on something other than their current writing project...yes, I made this up myself) kicks in and I'm trying to find other ways to promote my books.

I had emailed the writer again and asked if she writes while she's at work, on the weekends and if her hubby feels neglected. She mostly edits at work; she chooses a weekend day to write and asks her husband which day he wants to spend with her--Saturday or Sunday (I think Steven's response that suggestion was "Oh, so now I won't get you on Sundays?"); and yes, he her hubby feels neglected but he takes the writing more seriously now that she has an agent--which makes it possible for a book deal. So. I had a little, itty bitty--miniscule, really--breakdown. In my office. Very quietly. The doubts started crowding in and I felt overwhelmed:

WHAT. THE. HELL. WERE. YOU. THINKING. STARTING. YOUR OWN. BUSINESS? You know you have this thing about standing up in front of a bunch of people, so doing workshops and speeches are out. At least, for the time being. And Steven notices how you hop on the computer the minute you get home and stay on until you're forced to eat (or one of your shows is on...which he records anyway so we can watch it another night)..is that hurt in his voice? But you're not writing. No, no, you're surfing the Net, finding places to send your books, looking for conferences to attend that you probably won't be able to afford anyway. Will he start to resent me if I spend all night writing (really writing, not just surfing)? If I got an agent (he really wants me to get an agent), would he feel any different? Does he resent me now and just won't say so? I mean, he knew I was writing when he met me, so he's gonna have to understand that I'm going to be on the computer a lot and won't be able to spend a lot of time with him. If I get an agent, I'll probably be on the computer even more doing re-writes. Geez, I need a quieter place to write. Steven's good about keeping the sound on the T.V. low, but there's thing called "verbal reaction" and it's normal. When you see something unexpected, you have to verbally react to it. Hell, I've done it before after Steven's gone to sleep. But I can still hear everything, even with the door closed and it would just be really nice to have a place to write that's not at home. God, it would be so much easier if we worked different hours like I did a couple of years ago. I could get up and write before going to work, do it again when I get home when he's in bed....

Best friend Amy calls. She knows something's wrong. *take a deep breath*. Can't really talk at the moment because I'm, well, having a moment. So I email her and tell her. She calls me back and talks me down from my emotional ledge that I always climb up on once a month. It never changes. There's still bird poop everywhere. I need to bring a blanket every time for the cushy armchair (maybe I should just get a new chair). It's a tad windy, but it has a great view. And it's comfy. Like Linus's blanket.

"You need to stop being everyone else and just be you," Amy says. "You're in a different place. We've talked about this before." Yeah, well, "before" was last month. Now it's this month. She's right, and I know she's right. Writing for that other author just flows. For me, it's like pulling my hair out...strand by strand. It's damn hard being a writer. We're so insecure and I can understand why some of us end up becoming hermits. It's a solitary profession. A profession that forces you to close yourself off from the outside world...including friends and loved ones. How does Stephen King do it? How does John Grisham do it? How does any full time writer balance writing and family?

After climbing down from that stupid ledge (it keeps getting higher every time), I took stock. Well, I actually took stock before Amy called, but that's neither here nor there. I've come to the realization that I need a publicist--or a PR firm--to do all the promotion for me. I have ideas. I know what I want to do and I know what my limitations are. I just need someone else to carry them out for me. I need someone to say, "Okay, you need to be here, here, and here, on this date, at this time. In the meantime, just keep writing." Well, they don't need to say that last part. It would be a given. I wish Amy could do it for me full time because she is so much more outgoing than I am, but she can't. She has obligations, too. Goal #1: Find a publicist or a PR firm. And then figure out how I'm going to pay them.

I've always worked best in silence. Whenever I had homework, I did it in silence: no radio, no T.V. Was it ingrained? Something I was forced to do because Mom and Dad said so? Probably. It worked for me back then, but I wonder if it's hindering me now. I've always thought that I needed to write in silence with no distractions: no radio, no T.V., no answering the phone. I thought if I had enough "visual stimulation" on my walls (and no, I'm not talking about a calendar filled with half-naked men), I'd be able to focus. I think it's too quiet. Last night, I was determined to finish Chapter 4. And I did. I had 4 pages left to do and it took me 3 hours. 3 hours to write 4 lousy ass pages! (and they probably are lousy cuz I haven't gone back to edit them yet). I felt mentally and physically tired afterwards, like I'd written four chapters instead of 4 pages. Sounds ridiculous, even to me. How can I feel like that after only 4 pages?!! I think I need to try something different. Goal #2: Try writing while listening to some instrumental music. No Jazz.

I only had one doubting breakdown this month. I had one last month, too. Next month should be interesting.
posted by GeminiWisdom @ 8:16 AM |

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