I’ve been busy lately going through a spring cleaning of my office. This includes my armoire, which I refer to as the abyss. I found junk in there that I’ve been hanging on to for decades. The final papers from the sale of my condo when moving in with Mr. Husband 10 years ago, pictures that I forgot I even had.
1 thing I found which intrigued me was a self-portrait drawn 20 years ago when I was suffering from untreated clinical depression. It made me happy to know that I don’t have to suffer with that much now. Except for the times I stop taking antidepressant thinking “I am all better now, I don’t need no stinking meds!” Then I have to re-accept that, oh yeah, I do have a mental disorder.
Another was a quote from a book on writing that I read about 2 years ago. The quote was from the book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Ann Lamont. There are many pearls of wisdom in there for aspiring writers. She recounted her first and favorite rejection letter. The editor returned her manuscript with a note in the margins; “You have made the mistake of thinking that everything that happens to you is interesting.”
Well excuse me, but everything that happens to me is interesting…to me anyway. Where I trip up is finding myself reluctant to post something because I don’t want to bore anyone with trivial ramblings. But I have to keep in mind that it is my blog and I write what is going on in my head on a particular day. No one is holding a gun to the head of anyone who reads it.
Another quote I love is; “What people think of me is none of my business.” How true this is. I’ve wasted many an hour of my life worrying what others think of me. Yeesh, it really does not matter except in some weird scenario where you find yourself under suspicion of murder and are being tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.
I found myself pondering this and realized that the real struggle of acceptance vs. rejection is in what I think of myself. How many times have I rejected my dreams or discounted my nightmares? The true key to happiness is to accept myself, not try to force others to accept me. Lamont absolutely nailed it. What other people think of me really is none of my business!
I think I sprained my brain. Woke up with a bizarre throbbing headache that I was certain would be visible to someone other than myself. Cranking out 2 short stories in 2 days left me breathless, exhausted, and tied up in knots.
Oh come on you wussy, you may say, what is so hard about that? It is if you think like me, that every little thing you do is an excuse to pick apart everything other thing you did or said in excruciating detail back to the moment of your birth. It’s a vicious circle. But, I learned some things about myself the past few days. If you are an experienced writer maybe you’ll chuckle and think back to that time when you ripped five hairs out of your head for every word you wrote. And I’d bet money you’re glad you past all that. Please don’t tell me that you never got past it or I might have aneurism.
One thing I learned is yes I can change something I’ve written after declaring it finished. This fear dates back to when hitting the send button on an email that someone took offense to could cost me my job. In the corporate nightmare you can recall a message, but you know everyone read it anyway and are already planning what they are going to salvage from your desk after you are walked out the door by security. That never happened to me, but I imagined it many times. And fear is fear whether justifiable or not.
Another thing I learned is, do not, under any circumstances, read a book like “38 Common Mistakes Fiction Writers Make – And How to Avoid Them, immediately after trying something new. I’m been torturing myself for days reading this damned infernal book from hell. It would better and less painful if I just smashed my thumb with a hammer and got it over with quick. Kind of like ripping off a band-aid. I do have to give myself some credit. Some of the 38 things I got right.
Maybe I remember more from that creative writing class in college than I thought. One of the criticisms I received was “your writing is too flowery.” Say what? What the hell does that mean? Turns out flowery meant, to this professor, that I referred to ladies as ladies instead of women. Excuuuuuuse me, but I’m from the south and there is a huge difference here between women and ladies. Women just happen, being a lady takes effort. But, thinking about it, I guess that is not obvious out of the south and unless I aim all my written efforts at the combination ladies cotillion, rummage sale, and church social, I need to weed that phrase out.
Another thing I learned is that, out of self-preservation and a strong desire to not be hauled away in straight jacket, is to let it lie for a while. Don’t sit there and reread your work 85 thousand times. All it did for me was turn me cross-eyed and question my sanity, although I question my sanity at least once a day anyway. I suppose that is OK really, but if it leads to others questioning my sanity as well, maybe I better calm down. Steven King mentioned the give your work a break for while bit in his book “On Writing” But did I take his word for it? NoooOOoo. I absolutely insist on making all the mistakes myself.
While writing this post my headache went away. Oh my God, what if I’m addicted to writing? Will I start burgling the neighbor’s houses in search of pen and paper?
Discredit Your Inner Idiot. Go on you know you wanna! I’m fixinta do it right now. (In case you haven’t noticed I’m experimenting with made up words today.)
It’s rainy day, so my decision to leave the house will just have to wait. Instead I’ve decided to find a pair of pliers and a hammer to go to work on my inner critic.
Inner Idiot: Why start a blog? You know you never finish anything?
Real Me: Shaddup! Been blogging for almost a year now. The only thing I’ve done this consistently in my life is travel and drink beer. OK, I also read Sci Fi and tend to scare myself to death reading Steven King books when I’m home alone.
Inner Idiot: Sooo you want to be a writer. Who do you think you are?
Real Me: Uh…me? Been writing all my life, just didn’t share it that often. Actually I’m a published writer. A story I wrote got published in a national magazine for kids when I was in the 5th grade. God, I wish I could remember what the name was. Also wrote stories for the school newspaper in high school. There has just been a brief 40 year dry spell. Now that I think of it, during the corporate years, I wrote entire books. They were non-fiction. Scintillating subjects like – User Manuals, Standard Operating Procedures, Employee policy, history of a company, successful proposals to fund projects, business plans, etc. Not edge of your chair, nail-biting, stay up all night kind of stuff, but hey! I AM a writer. So bite me!
Inner Idiot: Oh come on! Every time you fire up your Kindle you are confronted with pictures of fossilized great writers from days of yore. What makes you think you can stand on the shoulders of greatness?
Real Me: Seriously? Can’t those Kindle people put a picture in there of a person is has not been in the ground for 50 years? Why do you have to be dead to be considered creative? And further more, I’ll bet cash money that I’m every bit as weird as Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), just in different kinda way.
Inner Idiot: *Sigh, and rolls eyes* Everyone wants to be a writer. It’s an easy way to explain inactivity, if all you do is stay up late at night and stare at paper.
Real Me: Well…No, actually not everyone wants to be a writer. Percentage wise, not that many do. Come to think of it, I’ve never met anyone, in person, who wants to do this. And I’ve met a lot of people.
Inner Idiot: Well, maybe I’m beating a dead horse here.
Real me: Yea, you are. I shall sashay forth and do my thang. Nice talking to you, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
NaNoWriMo update: Fell a little behind the last day or 2, but I was ahead already so I have plenty of wiggle room.