Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a monthly blog hop for writers at all levels to share their fears and insecurities in a safe and encouraging place. Please drop by and say hi to Alex Cavanaugh who started this nifty concept in bringing us all together.
I had a bad day last week.
The funny thing was nothing terrible caused it. I didn’t get a bad review or rejection or someone pull me aside and gently suggest I get my shit together and do something else with my life. Nothing like that. And actually, it was a pretty great day. Work was slow. Weather was nice. Absolutely nothing awful triggered the emotional breakdown I had while throwing the ball around with Appa. Each day after work I set aside some time to play with the little guy and that day, for whatever reason at all, the fact that I was releasing my fourth book had me in tears.
So often I focus on the positive, on the optimism and good in every situation that I forget there’s a flip side. Or maybe I just ignore it. Eventually, though, it catches up with me because I figured that if I had three works out there and nothing was changing—nothing was getting better in my writing career, did that mean it never would? Did it mean I lacked the talent/skill/ability? Did it mean writing wasn’t ever going to work for me? From here—today—those questions sound silly. Whiny, even. I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life. I went to school for it, worked in the evenings after day-jobs and on the weekends for it, and haven’t given up yet. So why wouldn’t I be able to make a successful career?
But I’m thirty. I have three books out. Nothing (that I can see) is changing. And so I cried. I cried because I was disappointed in how things were turning out. I cried because I saw so much success in my friends, in the families they’ve created and the accomplishments they’ve carved into the world. I cried because I’d had other dreams for myself, other goals, that I pushed behind writing, that I sacrificed to be able to focus on the only thing I’ve ever (truly) wanted to do.
And I’m still not there yet.
Any kind of creative pursuit is torment. And most of it, self-inflicted. I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. It chants through each risk we convince ourselves to take when we find the courage to do so. Every blog post for me is both exhilarating and anxiety-ridden. I love it and I hate it. I look forward to it, and dread it. I do my best to focus on the positive, always knowing the negative is a shadow’s length at bay. And sometimes, especially recently, I’ve watched the shadow grow larger. Stronger.
That’s why I find myself flirting with the idea of giving up. It feels good. It feels good in the way it shouldn’t, like I’m committing the crime without having to deal with the repercussions. So I revel in it. Just for a moment. What if I never wrote another blog post? What if I never ignored the torment to focus on the pleasure again? Would that make me happy? Would that fix things? Or would I only make it worse?
It’s a constant battle and one I don’t think will ever really go away. But I’m posting this, so I’ve convinced myself to try at least one more time. And that’s something. Some little win when I wasn’t sure it made sense to keep posting on a site so rarely visited. Like I said—it’s a constant battle, and I’ll probably go through this every month for every post if I (hopefully) continue to blog.
Oh, and someone else in the group must have been experiencing similar questions and feelings because I saw a post about doing other things with your life if writing falls through. One of the commenters suggested watching Elizabeth Gilbert’s (author of Eat, Pray, Love) Ted Talks.
I did, and it helped. It’s definitely worth the watch:
And if you’re the curious type: