Hello and welcome to another anxiety-fueled edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
So, it is now one whole week into the new content schedule and it didn’t even take me that long to realize that it’s going to be a helluva lot of work to main. Certainly more than the non-existent workload of the last several months since consigning Border Towns to the “to be revised once I’ve had some significant distance” pile. But, you know, that was sort of the point, wasn’t it? To give myself something to creative engage with while I brainstorm the next novel? The way I’ve designed the posting schedule means that almost immediately after I’ve finished One Thing I have to start outlining the Next Thing with nary a moment to bask in the joy of success of the First Thing.
But again, maybe that’s actually a positive change. There’s some popular conventional wisdom out there that suggests if you want to be successful at writing, you need to treat it like a job, even if it’s not your job. And while that might be a little too unrealistic and burdensome on some people, it is absolutely true for me. I know myself well enough to know that if I continue to mentally categorize writing as a hobby, that’s all it will ever be: something I can start and stop at my leisure and a thing I will never, ever do professionally. Which is the opposite of what I want. So, by giving myself a schedule and deadlines to meet, like a real job, I can get myself into the mindset needed to write every day, even when I’m tired and just want to play video games.
That said, being this active again has given me to thinking (and rethinking) about the way I have approached the writing community, and my place in it. Though it may not seem like it based on this blog, I am actually a very private person. I am uncomfortable with attention and have serious anxiety about what People Might Think if my personal details were on display for consumption. That’s why, for example, my twitter page very rarely deviates from writing related topics. I cultivated this particular twitter account for engaging with the writing community and nothing else (I actually have two other accounts, each for different interests; I intentionally keep all three compartmentalized, but none are really for me to talk about myself).
Which has left me wondering… is my twitter page too sterile for an aspiring writer? Do people visit it and think I come across as robotic and weirdly mission-centric (I mean, I do)? Would an industry professional, upon query or submission, check me out and want me to be more open about my life, not just as an aspiring writer, but a human being? Is the ko-fi link in profile tacky? Do I seem desperate for engagement? I don’t even have a passable manuscript, do I even count as a writer? Is my journey even one worth chronicling?
As dramatic as these questions sound, I don’t think they are unique to me. After all, writers sort of have to be hypersensitive over thinkers. How would we ever revise and edit a manuscript otherwise? There isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t rewritten a sentence half a dozen times because it just doesn’t feel right. Show me an author who hasn’t used a thesaurus to find a new word to replace the perfect one they already had, only because they used the same one 47 pages ago and it felt too redundant. The instinct to question oneself isn’t just pervasive in the community, it’s, in many ways, encouraged.
It makes me wonder how any of us retain our sanity while doing this whole writing thing (age old jokes about all writers being a little bit crazy aside). It makes those who succeed all the more impressive and those who continue to toil in the face of such deep-seated uncertainty all the more legendary. And it makes my ever-present anxiety brain relax its grip just a little bit. I’m not alone in this, no matter how solitary I might feel. None of us are.
That got a bit deep, didn’t it? These new topic-less blog posts are gonna be fun, I can tell. Anyway, that’s all from me for this Thursday Words Day, but before I go, let’s see what our Short But Sweet prompt is!
The clever man will be laughing all day.
If you want to participate just write your flash fiction or vignette and tag #ShortButSweetSunday on twitter, or drop a link in the comments. Looking forward to some great reads! Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.