When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me....
Well, usually. Today she's running late; I bet the snow held her up.
I'm scared. Really scared. And this is going to be one of those "I have to get stuff off my chest" posts. So if this isn't your thing, I recommend visiting another blog today.
Over the past three days, I spent a good eighteen hours or so hanging out with my manuscript. Saturday was rough. I wanted to break into work, print it out on the fancy schmancy printer, and light the sucker on fire in the parking lot. I hated it; I wanted the pages to bleed pain.
Sunday was better. My streak of productivity continued for the duration of today. I moved beyond the section I've dwelled on since before the holidays, and now, finally, I know what I need to do. I'm motivated; I have direction.
From the moment I started this project, I knew how the story ended. I deviated from that course a few times, but always ended up returning to my original plan.
In light of current headlines related to my plot, I feel compelled to travel down a path not highlighted of my original route. It's a road that makes me uncomfortable; one that dramatically alters the vision I once saw so clearly. And, despite my reservations, I plan to fully embrace this modification. I'm actually excited to do so.
So, why the fear?
Good question. I can't explain it. All I know is I'm a mess. My eating and sleeping patterns are completely out of whack. I'm up all hours of the night listening to my protagonist's voice. He's become a real pain in the ass, blatantly refusing to converse during normal daylight hours. You know what, buddy? You're a lot younger then I am - I happen to like my sleep.
Kidding aside, I think my fears are advancing as the end springs closer into view. I see the finish line. My friends and family are waiting with water and a soft pretzel. Yet despite how badly I want to move into the next phase, I find myself slowing down - easing from a sprint to a jog and from a jog to a brisk walk. Anything to delay crossing that line for good - and not because I loathe the thought of editing. I'm ready to kill some darlings. I'll be slaughtering sections that once caused me agony; rewriting dialogue and deleting my favorite parts that don't need to be there. That part I welcome; it's the next part that scares me.
I don't believe in myself. I never have in twenty-seven years, and I highly doubt anything is going to change that. The best literary agents could look into my eyes and tell me they like my manuscript. I'd ask them what they smoked before reading it.
Rejection is not a stranger. We've spent many years together and have a fairly intimate relationship. As I look into the not so distant future, I know she's booked a ticket to visit and there is nothing I can do to change that. I think I'm prepared to see her again, but how can I really know until I'm in the moment?
What I do know is this: when I sat started writing, I did it for me. It was a hobby to pass the days of unemployment and boredom. Something to get me up in the morning; a goal to keep me focused and away from booze. Of course it didn't take long to become plagued with greater desires - the fantasy all aspiring authors dream about. It's the same for everyone - we want to see our novel being sold in bookstores across the country.
Now, when I say I want this, I realize the vocabulary to convey the magnitude of that desire does not exist.
Failure is not in my vocabulary. When I decided to pursue this project seriously, meaning I was no longer writing for "fun," I had to alter my entire mindset. Instead of thinking how cool it would be if one day I was published, I approached each writing session as if the deal was already sealed. In order to produce my best work, I had to convince myself I was capable.
But the truth is, I don't think I am.
Had I never breathed a word of this to anyone, it wouldn't matter as much. But stupid me had to get excited and broadcast to the world what I was working on. The good news is I have so many people rooting for me. The bad news is, I'm terrified of letting them down.
I'm cursed with two character traits that continuously reduce my life span. I'm a perfectionist and I am a planner, neither of which have a place in writing. I can't plan for a particular outcome, nor can I write the perfect novel. Man does that suck.
Some say I set myself up for disappointment; that I set goals I'm not capable of reaching. I have some great friends, don't I?
But, the truth is, I have set some high expectations. I want to be living proof that when one door closes, another one really does open. I want to visit my former students and show them everything worked out okay. I want to testify that the quote in my tag line is true. (Oh, and I want to mail a signed copy to my former administrators with a professionally worded In Your Face note attached...)
And I want to be worthy of the friends I've made in the writing community. I want to be part of their world - enter an industry I'm passionate about and have opportunities to meet those I respect and admire. I'm tired of standing outside in the cold, peering through windows while others live my dream. I want to join them; I want to learn from them.
The road ahead is far from smooth. I just wish I knew if I'll reach my destination.