I’ve spent a lot of the last month or so since my previous post thinking about writing. Yes, I was doing that rather than writing, because I was still struggling. Every time I’ve thought I had this licked, I find out I’m wrong, so wrong, and back at square one.
This has not been fun, as you might imagine.
Oh, this doesn’t mean I haven’t had ideas. That fount hasn’t really even slowed down, which of course means stories are piling up, all begging to be told. Until I sit down to try to write them at least. Then they flip me off and I can’t seem to make anything work. The only thing I seemed capable of was thinking about this one story idea and the world I’m building for it. I’ve made some notes on that and now I’m trying to tease out the main characters of the story, get them to talk to me about who they are and what they’re like. That’s it. That’s pretty much the sum of my productivity for the last month.
But something has changed these last few days and I think I know what.
I recently committed to writing two different short stories for friends. The first I volunteered for, after a bit of soul-searching. It’s a bit of a stretch for me, and you can imagine how nervous I was about saying I’d write something for someone. But the friend running the project was wonderfully supportive and that allowed me to feel like I might be able to do this. I had an outline that night, which further fired my hope up. I started writing it the next day, but didn’t get far. I could still feel the story alive and kicking, but the opening wasn’t right, so I decided to sit on it and think for a couple days
Then another friend messaged me and asked if I’d be interested in taking part in a vampire project she was going to run. My thoughts went back to my vampire story that I started during NaNo last November.
I never finished it, wrote barely 25k on it, just enough to get me over the finish line. There are reasons for that. The way I was struggling. That I hadn’t planned on writing it for NaNo. Others. But the point is, it’s been on my mind off and on since November, because I like the world and the story. And then this request came up and suddenly I was thinking of another, background event that isn’t in the novel but affects it. Suddenly I knew I had to tell this story. I signed up, actually excited rather than nervous.
I wrote that story in two wonderful days, though it still needs a title and revision. I love where it went, which included a twist I hadn’t remotely expected when I started, something I’m going to have to find a way to fit into the novel. And for the first time in a long while, I feel successful in a writing endeavor.
That was priceless.
The other short story? I restarted that tonight after a flash of a new and much better opening that came during my trip home from work today. I’m halfway through it now, or maybe a little over. I never know until I’m done how long a story will be. I should finish tomorrow and I can’t wait.
Right now, I can feel my confidence in my writing stirring. It’s not back all the way and I may still end up back at square one, but I don’t think so. You see, I found something that I lost without realizing it at first sometime last year. In fact, I only just realized yesterday that I’d lost it, when I found it again.
I’d lost the fun. I’d lost the joy in this that made writing not work but the way I chose to spend my non-day-job hours and was refreshed by.
Now that’s a big thing to lose, isn’t it?
Part of the problem, I think, is that I also kept getting ahead of myself. Instead of enjoying what I was doing, I wish pushing for more all the time and always thinking too far out. I’d be writing and thinking about all the revisions on all the manuscripts I needed to do. I’d be working on book one and thinking too much about the second and/or third book. I’d be working on one trilogy and thinking about the next project already.
It wasn’t just a pressure thing. It was a presentness that was lacking and fun. Everything became a chore, something I had to race through to get to the next thing, and that sapped the fun out of it because I couldn’t enjoy any of it.
Let me say that it sucked, big time, trying to do all this with no fun in it. I have my day job for work I have to do whether I enjoy it or not (not to say I don’t like my day job, but sometimes there’s no fun and a LOT of annoyance).
These short stories? I’m having fun with them. I was halfway through the vampire one before I said for sure I’d do it. I was nervous about agreeing when I’d stumbled so badly trying to write Vintage, the novel I started. But it flowed when I stopped pressuring myself, stopped thinking about what I had to do after this was done, stopped everything but just living in the story and with the characters.
I needed that shot in the arm, I think. I feel like I’m now in the process of rebuilding my confidence, and I know it’ll take time to get there, but that’s okay. I’ll take it one day at a time and always keep focused on now, one what I’m working on and enjoying it.
Writing, like some of the best things in life, is a journey and you should enjoy it. I have to remember that. Maybe I should get it tattooed on my hand or something. I’ll see it every time I sit down to use a keyboard at least, so I can’t miss it while writing. 😉
Okay, I’m mostly kidding. But it’s nice to feel like I can write again. As I tweeted while working on the vampire short story, I missed this feeling, a lot. Thank you, Beau and Kat, for getting me writing again and believing in my ability to do so. *HUGS*