Seriously, what the hell made me think this is something I could do in the first place?
What started as an exciting adventure, a fun foray into a sunlight- and flower-filled valley where things are hunky and dory and smell like candy and everything feels like soft velvet for some reason is turning to ash. The beautiful butterflies are turning into bloodsucking bats. The fragrant flowers are a thicket of thorny thistles. The brilliant, redeeming sun is covered over with clouds the color of sick and despair.
This, on the day after I had a really quite lovely session of writing. Words came easy, metaphors bloomed like so many daisies, the story was clear, and now the path is filled with bear traps. And bears. Who are surprisingly good at avoiding traps.
Do all writers suffer these vicious mood swings? These vertigo-inducing changes in perspective and confidence and certainty? I am trying hard to remember that it’s okay if the first draft sucks, that anything and everything can be changed in the edit — lead can be turned to gold, nonsensical plot turns into natural progressions, sharknado into sandwiches — but damned if the howler monkey of doubt isn’t getting the better of me today.
I’m trying to find ways to downplay this sense of dread and inadequacy. Trying to find parallels so that I can convince myself that it’s not so bad, that tomorrow is another day and that Future Me is a capable chap who can right all the wrongs I’m putting on the page. Like…
This might be like stage fright, where I’ve spent weeks learning lines and blocking and running scenes with my fellow actors and now on the eve of performance I look out past the footlights into the sea of waiting faces like so many piranhas with their gleaming teeth and I freeze up and forget my lines. Except this is not stage fright. There is no pivotal performance, no impending moment at which I must either demonstrate everything I’ve worked for or be revealed as a fraud and a charlatan (bonus points, self, for using the word “charlatan”). No, I have as much time as it takes to get this story right before I put it out there into the world. Hmm. That feels better.
No, rather this is like I’m a chef who’s studied for years and years and souffle’d lots of things that get baked into souffles and fricasee’d lots of things that get fricasee’d, whatever the hell a fricasee is. So then I make this monstrously big fricasee souffle except it’s actually made of dogsharknado because I ran out of other ingredients and this big food critic is coming into the restaurant tonight and he’s going to review my dogsharknado fricasee souffle and it’s going to be awful, really the worst thing ever, but I had to serve him SOMETHING, didn’t I? Except, no, there is no food critic except myself, and I have time to go to the grocery store and get more ingredients instead of serving up hot fricaseed dogsharknado on a plate. Okay, yeah, that’s better, too.
Even here, on the blarg, where there are virtually — no, scratch that — LITERALLY no requirements or standards except that I remain more or less honest and attempt to amuse myself, I am feeling overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and self-deprecation. That last post was boring, I didn’t use enough colorful descriptions, I’m just describing things as they are, nobody’s going to care to read it, I’m even boring myself to tears. I didn’t even post 1000 words — THIS POST ISN’T EVEN 1000 WORDS — WHERE HAVE ALL MY WORDS GONE? Except, wait a minute, the blarg is for me and me alone, to help me deal with these roadblocks: if people who are not me read it and enjoy it, that’s just a bonus. If I’m being truthful and letting the writer-flag fly, as it were, then the blarg is serving its purpose. Okay, yeah, I’m actually feeling much better.
All this will be better in the morning. It will. The draft will be finished in two weeks. I can do anything for two weeks. Even, perhaps, steer this storm-shattered ship to safety (alliteration x5, bonus points whee!)
Yeah, it’s feeling much better now.