I’ve come to a conclusion that will shock you all.
I’m way too hard on myself.
So, that’s the sound of no one being even surprised. Wow. Deafening, I’m telling you. Okay, so maybe that’s not news to anyone who’s seen me go through writing a draft. For those who haven’t, there’s enough proof in the archives of this blog that I could easily get myself convicted of near-criminal self-abuse if I ever decided to press charges. Don’t try to follow that logic, it’ll only hurt your head.
All right, so what’s different? I caught myself at it, that’s what. I still think it’s a miracle I noticed because, well, I’m like that. I have trouble realizing that my expectations of myself are unreasonable until they reach the point of absurdity. Ask myself to write a novel in 20 days? No problem. How about two weeks? Um, maybe, if I take a vacation from the day job? A week? Er, I’ll get back to me on that one. I’m serious. It has to come down to where I’m asking myself to do in a few days what takes most people months before I realize how ridiculous I’m being.
Case in point today. I keep saying that I’m not getting through the edits for Where The Ether Flows as fast as I’d like, and I only keep saying that because I swear, my inner editor is standing behind me with the cat o’ nine tails, and not in a good way. “Edit faster,” she screams, and so I try to. Only she also screams when I’m not being thorough enough. It reminds me of every time in a day job I’ve been told to get more work done with less time, except this time it’s me telling myself that. I think that’s actually worse.
Where was I going with this story. Oh yeah, editing Ether Flows. I’m almost there, just starting into Chapter 20 of 24 today and my inner editor screams, “You should be done with this already. Fucking slacker!” Pardon the profanity, but trust me, if you saw the notes I leave on her behalf on my own manuscripts when I do mark up, you’d know that’s practically tame for her, almost kittenish. I swore to myself that I’d have it done by the end of the week, and she said it wasn’t good enough, that I should be done sooner. I immediately realized that a)my inner editor is a slave-driving bitch and b)I’m being unreasonable.
I just checked and found out that I started editing on July 12th. It’s now the 30th, so I’ve done 19 chapters of revision, aka heavy content editing, on what has become my longest novel ever, added over 29,000 words, all in 17 days (barely started for today) and I’m still telling myself that it’s not good enough, that I should be done already. Sick or what? Oh, and in that time, I’ve been bashed over the head by a few story ideas that I dutifully banged out into a decent set of notes, gone out on at least one photo shoot, worked 40 hours a week at a day job and helped a friend through a shit-storm in her life. Oh, and I’m helping another friend prep to do NaNo with me in November for the first time.
How the hell can all that not be good enough? What more can I possibly cram into 17 days? I need to give myself a break. No, I’m not talking about taking a vacation, or any sort of time off from writing, because even I know that won’t happen. I need to write. I saw a quote the other day on Twitter that said it all to me on that score:
“I write for the same reason I breathe — because if I didn’t, I would die.” Isaac Asimov
I really couldn’t stop if you held a gun to my head. I’d still be making up a story out of that experience as it happened. No, what I really need is to give myself a break in the sense of saying something is good enough. That I don’t need to edit a whole first draft manuscript in a week, that it’s okay to skip a NaNo because the idea isn’t ready yet, and that it’s okay to go to sleep when my brain is like mush. After all, plenty of others seem to think I’m doing amazing. Every time any of you (or a number of people in my real life who know what I get up to when I’m not at the day job) tell me that I inspire you with how much I get done, I should point out to myself that it means what I do is enough. I should use those comments to remind myself when I forget and drive myself crazy.
Now that I’ve had my little rant, I’m going back to editing, before the editor cracks that whip again. Trust me, those things hurt. As a reward for listening, I give you a picture. It’s like a cookie for your eyes. Yes, I have totally lost it, why do you ask?