Between vacation and this new blog, I've worked on my near-finished novel maybe once in the last three weeks. Coming back to it sucked --- it usually does. I started reading what I'd written for the chapter so far, just to get my mind back into it. This inevitably led to me editing what I'd written already, an unconscious stall. After two hours of that, minimally improving what was already there, I finally started writing new material at the point where I'd left off.
Another two hours, barely 400 words, and every one of them felt uninspired. In a few days these paragraphs may read better. They may not. But on a satisfaction scale of 1 to 10 --- 10 being ultimate fulfillment and 1 being self-flagellation --- the writing process was at best, today, a 3.
I'm grateful that, lately, it only takes me one sitting of actual writing (editing doesn't count) to get back in the swing of things after a short break, so I'm hopeful that tomorrow will be better, but... nyeghh.
The worst is how pervasive the experience is, because soon it's not merely the words I just wrote down that are blah. It's the whole book. If I really think about it, the very concept is laughably bland. A recent college grad looks for meaning in all the wrong places??? Who the hell am I kidding? I'm insulting my own intelligence.
I know from experience this feeling is only temporary, that soon I will again like my own writing better than anyone else's, that I'll be convinced it deserves to at least get published. But I'm horrified anew, every time this feeling sets in, that my perception of myself can vary so extremely. Is it possible that this wounded sense of myself is closer to reality, and that the other 90 percent of the time I'm deluding myself? Is that delusion the only thing that's allowed me get this far?
People delude themselves about their talents all the time. Just think of singing. Most people don't realize how bad they sound singing. American Idol, karaoke, my roommates in a good mood, any recorded performance of mine that I've yet to destroy --- the evidence is everywhere. What if my ability to write is like some people's ability to sing - an embarassing sham?
Of course I exaggerate, but when you consider what's at stake, even the average of "I'm awesome" and "I suck" is scary. After such an investment of time and emotional energy, I don't want to merely be perfectly decent, or even pretty good. I want to be good enough that I get printed and that lots of people read me. Doesn't have to be a million. A couple thousand would be nice.
Sad to say, if I knew I would never be published, I wouldn't bother writing... at least not a novel. I love my art, but not that much. I need heavy reinforcement to keep going, and for now the prospect of publication seems to be enough. It might even be enough to spur a second novel if --- God, let it be otherwise --- the first doesn't go anywhere.
Ego! Find me again!!!
The Savior Complex
1 month ago