Day 5 – The Upside to Dark Places

CheneyI'm Writing a Book, Mental Health, On Writing, Setting Goals22 Comments

darkgift

I carry all of my tension in my shoulders, and there has been something that has been nagging and bothering me for the last few days that is really messing with me in terrible ways. I find myself thinking damn, everything hurts, and it takes me a while to realize that the pain is coming in constant waves because my shoulders are jacked up to my ears and I’m walking around (and even sitting around) looking like Lurch. So yes, you could say that I am currently feeling some anxiety over something that I’d just as soon not talk about, but there’s therapy, and being impeccable with my word and shit, and so I guess I better just confess.

I haven’t been writing.

This happens to me, quite a lot actually. You know how you read here and there things that say “you aren’t a REAL writer if you don’t write every day”? I know it’s just a generalization, a stereotype or whatever, but inside I’ve always wondered if it were really true and knew that if it’s true, I’m just a pretender. Because I don’t always write every day, and I haven’t written a word of fiction since the end of November.

Not writing panics me, but I hide the panic behind excuses, back in there with all the other things I hide so well. Not writing makes me feel like I am worthless, and now that I have so much more time on my hands in which I could be writing, I feel guilt piled on top of worthlessness. But the thing that really gets me is that I have three entirely completed novels on my hands that just need editing – serious editing, mind you – it will not be an easy task – because those three novels? I haven’t touched them since they were finished one month, 20 months, and 28 months ago. Of course I remember their birthdays.

Why? Why do I do this? I could just say, well, because I have never done it before. It’s true, I’ve never edited anything of length, I’ve never gone through the process of getting beta readers or a writing group or anything – ANYTHING – at all. Because I think there’s no point, because my writing will never amount to anything anyway.

So then I have self-loathing piled on top of guilt which is piled on top of worthlessness.

And that is depression for me.

The feeling that I have all the time that I have to do a billion things at once, but knowing that I am never going to do anything as good as (insert anyone to compare myself to here), which makes me take on too much and do everything half assed, trying to be perfect, but then it’s all TOO MUCH and I know I’ll just fail so I don’t do anything instead?

That’s anxiety for me. (Which also causes terrible run on sentences.)

From the day I finished my NaNoWriMo novel until today, I haven’t written a word of fiction. I’ve barely been able to read because seeing other people’s words on paper is only a sick reminder of how far I have to go and how much hard work I have in front of me if I want to get there. If I want to see my name on a spine.

Whenever I run my fingers across covers in bookstores I always pause and wiggle my finger into the spot where my book will go.

Where my book WILL go.

I’ve changed since that first week in December when I was losing hope. Hope, I’ll tell you, is a mighty terrible thing to lose. It sends you into dark places inside yourself that I promise you never even knew were there. One of those places, of course, is under the covers of your bed. Certainly depression creeps from around the corners of your mind and whispers to you: you don’t belong here, just get back in bed, you can’t do this. I’ve learned not to listen, because of course there are other dark places in your mind where you can go and not be trapped, and when you visit them you return with gifts from that mischievous, fickle Muse. You come back with things you can use.

So I can choose to get in bed. I can let the depression go on tellings its lies. But I won’t.

I choose to CREATE.

22 Comments on “Day 5 – The Upside to Dark Places”

  1. CONGRATULATIONS! Yes, congrats!!! Your achievement of not one, not two, but THREE completed rough drafts is amazing!! See, I have dozens of characters & plots that reside in my head. I even have dozens of wips. All around 5000 words in. Tried Nano. I can’t seem to write past the beginning…

    So, where you see a loss of self-worth, I see an amazing accomplishment and are envious of your perseverance and dedication to a goal you’ve set for yourself.

    Now I’ll put on my teacher hat. Don’t allow all of that hard work you’ve done sit in a drawer somewhere to never see the light of day until you’d descendants find it hundreds of years from now and you become an overnight success. Polish that manuscript. Put elbow grease into it and make it shine for everyone to see.

    There’s a well-known quote about shooting for the moon & even if you miss you’ll land among the stars…well, we could always use another star to brighten up our darkest nights.

  2. CONGRATULATIONS! Yes, congrats!!! Your achievement of not one, not two, but THREE completed rough drafts is amazing!! See, I have dozens of characters & plots that reside in my head. I even have dozens of wips. All around 5000 words in. Tried Nano. I can’t seem to write past the beginning…
    So, where you see a loss of self-worth, I see an amazing accomplishment and are envious of your perseverance and dedication to a goal you’ve set for yourself.
    Now I’ll put on my teacher hat. Don’t allow all of that hard work you’ve done sit in a drawer somewhere to never see the light of day until you’d descendants find it hundreds of years from now and you become an overnight success. Polish that manuscript. Put elbow grease into it and make it shine for everyone to see.
    There’s a well-known quote about shooting for the moon & even if you miss you’ll land among the stars…well, we could always use another star to brighten up our darkest nights.

  3. Oh, honey, you are waaaay too hard on yourself. I can relate to the feeling of anxiety when I don’t write. The longer I don’t write, the harder it becomes to write! But look, you don’t have to write every day to be a writer. You are a writer if you write. Period! And anyway, you just wrote an entire post up there — look at it! That’s writing, too.

    Anyway, take a deep breath and know that your creative spirit will never let you down, even if you get in its way.

    1. Thanks, Deb. I know I’m too hard on myself, I’m working on that sort of radical acceptance I need to have in knowing that if I do my best, that’s the best I can do.

  4. Oh, honey, you are waaaay too hard on yourself. I can relate to the feeling of anxiety when I don’t write. The longer I don’t write, the harder it becomes to write! But look, you don’t have to write every day to be a writer. You are a writer if you write. Period! And anyway, you just wrote an entire post up there — look at it! That’s writing, too.
    Anyway, take a deep breath and know that your creative spirit will never let you down, even if you get in its way.

    1. Thanks, Deb. I know I’m too hard on myself, I’m working on that sort of radical acceptance I need to have in knowing that if I do my best, that’s the best I can do.

  5. I totally relate to you! I have had all of this happen to me too before. One day I just had to bust out of it and I started my blog and a plan for a non fiction book. I guess I should say I busted out of a small part of it because I still haven’t worked on my fiction in a long time. I haven’t pondered the reasons too much but now I am ready to start thinking again. I know I have some soul searching to do and thanks to this blog post I think I am ready to do that. Thank you so much for sharing your journey! I wish you the best.

    1. Wow, thanks! I am definitely finding that the best way to start doing things lately is to JUST START, and things sort of just roll along.

  6. I totally relate to you! I have had all of this happen to me too before. One day I just had to bust out of it and I started my blog and a plan for a non fiction book. I guess I should say I busted out of a small part of it because I still haven’t worked on my fiction in a long time. I haven’t pondered the reasons too much but now I am ready to start thinking again. I know I have some soul searching to do and thanks to this blog post I think I am ready to do that. Thank you so much for sharing your journey! I wish you the best.

    1. Wow, thanks! I am definitely finding that the best way to start doing things lately is to JUST START, and things sort of just roll along.

  7. Wow you have completed rough draughts of three books that is amazing, and I hope one day you complete them and they find there way onto the bookshelf of the store. I can relate I often have that feeling of not being good enough or that my work is not good enough. I love the quote about the box of darkness being a gift, it is just hard undergoing the process of the experience, and the time it takes to recognise what gift it is. Be kind to yourself and I hope you keep writing and finish those books of yours.

    1. Thank you Fran for the thoughtful comment. I remind myself daily that I’ve already accomplished so much but my dreams are still much bigger than what I’ve already got behind me.

  8. Wow you have completed rough draughts of three books that is amazing, and I hope one day you complete them and they find there way onto the bookshelf of the store. I can relate I often have that feeling of not being good enough or that my work is not good enough. I love the quote about the box of darkness being a gift, it is just hard undergoing the process of the experience, and the time it takes to recognise what gift it is. Be kind to yourself and I hope you keep writing and finish those books of yours.

    1. Thank you Fran for the thoughtful comment. I remind myself daily that I’ve already accomplished so much but my dreams are still much bigger than what I’ve already got behind me.

  9. I’ve been writing off and on since the 1990s when I was in college, a few plays, some unfinished novels, children’s stories, I guess I’ve tried a little bit of everything! And, no, I don’t, can’t write every day. But I’m older and wiser and I accept it now. Depression? Hell yes, rage? Yep, drinking a few glasses of wine every afternoon? Yep, been there too! Now I have a ton of sh*t to write about! Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised every day. Writing in a blog, an email, a blogging journal, word clouds or clusters, a letter to… yourself. Try different methods so the muscles don’t get too flabby, and when they do, it’s OK. It really is OK.

  10. I’ve been writing off and on since the 1990s when I was in college, a few plays, some unfinished novels, children’s stories, I guess I’ve tried a little bit of everything! And, no, I don’t, can’t write every day. But I’m older and wiser and I accept it now. Depression? Hell yes, rage? Yep, drinking a few glasses of wine every afternoon? Yep, been there too! Now I have a ton of sh*t to write about! Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised every day. Writing in a blog, an email, a blogging journal, word clouds or clusters, a letter to… yourself. Try different methods so the muscles don’t get too flabby, and when they do, it’s OK. It really is OK.

  11. Pingback: Day 16 – I wrote a book and don’t know how to edit it. – giving up the ghost

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