Okay, so it's probably not a big deal to my fellow writers but it is to me. I actually posted a short story on a writer's forum today! (Not here) It took a great deal for me to hit that send button but with a deep breath and a silent prayer I sent my work for the first time out into the world to be critiqued. What have I done?
"Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."
I took a few days away from the computer and my story to clear my head and decide which was more important to me, hiding to protect my feelings or moving forward with my feelings exposed. I have chosen to move forward. I'll be honest, I'm scared...terrified actually, but I know it must be done, otherwise how will I know. GoldenGhost was right, I don't want to look back with regret wondering "what if” So, I need to do some rethinking. I need to lock that little voice in a closet and train my brain to stand guard. I know this will be a daunting task. It can scream really loud sometimes but let's be honest here; the little voice is just an excuse. An excuse to hide, to never risk anything, to shelter myself, but if I really stop to look at it, break it down and stick it under a microscope, all the little voice has done for me is keep me stagnant. I know I can silence it, if I truly put my mind to it. Looking back, had I let the little voice win I wouldn't be living here in New Zealand with my wonderful new husband and my 4 great step kids. There is reason enough to stick a gag in its mouth and keep on typing.
Life is hard to live, we aren't given crystal balls and I have a bad habit of slipping into the debilitating land of "what if” What if I fail? What if I look stupid? What if people think my writing sucks? What I haven't done was use the "what if" to my advantage. What if people love my stories? What if my book sells? What if I succeed? How can I preach to my son to give life a chance, to risk failure in order to attempt success, if I'm too scared to do that same thing? I cannot, so I must put my money where my mouth is - so to speak - and climb out of the negative cocoon I've wrapped myself in, have a good cry, a cup of hot chocolate, and get back to writing. Starting today, I will take life and my writing, one moment at a time.
Advice is easier given than accepted. I have told my son numerous times to let go of the few mistakes and focus on his numerous accomplishments, yet I seem to be stuck in the same mind set at the moment. I love writing, have since I was very young. I started off writing poetry, then my 10th grade teacher read some poems and told me they were crap. I'm sure she used much nicer words but that's the way my mind heard it. I was a failure and should give up. I didn't exactly stop, I just couldn't bring myself to finish anything.
At college, my English teacher showed an interest in my work...I was shocked. She encouraged me to stay focused on writing. A poem I wrote for my son's second birthday was published in the college literary magazine. I was flying, hope returned and I felt great.
Then life got in the way, I put writing aside once more. Frustrated over a failing marriage I dripped my toe into erotica. Friends and coworkers loved the short stories. My dreams of being a writer began to spark but I couldn't find an avenue for actual publication. So, I headed for the internet. I had a few stories posted to an online forum and they got decent reviews, until the last one. I say the last one for a reason. Sadly, the negative comment caused the little voice in my head to return. I hate that little voice. I gave up and pushed the dream aside once more.
I recently moved to NZ, I'm a stay at home step mom with a lot of time on my hands. My wonderful new husband encouraged me to begin writing again. We did the Nanowrimo contest together and to my surprise...I actually completed the challenge. Then I started editing, and revising. The mistake I made was getting so excited that I began to look into publishing. Yikes! The stuff I have read has made the little voice even louder than before. "Words to avoid, Verbs to remove, Publishing Scams" Reading all this has made me want to stick my head in a whole and hide.
I've tried to edit by removing the words they say to avoid, rewriting to remove passive voice...all of it makes me feel like I am losing something of myself. I can pull any book off my bookcase and see the same issues I am being told to avoid evident in the first few pages. Is that because as an established writer you no longer need to worry about those issues? Is it that the industry wants to discourage new writers? I just don't get it. I haven't opened my novel in weeks and I fear if I can't shut the voice up that I will give up once again. Hey that's not the advice I gave my son (He pointed that out BTW) Yet, I can't seem to shake the despair.
I know I should write because I love doing it. I know I shouldn't write with the goal of publishing in mind. I know I should toughen up and learn to accept the bad with the good. I know I need to heed my own advice. I know all this, yet today I can't help feeling fragile.
Separate names with a comma.