Category Archives: Writing Fears

This is just too hard for me

I’ll continue with my previous post’s theme: Doubt. It’s decided to stick around. I tried reading the book again–you know, the one with the female author using a ‘male’ voice–can’t get past the first page. I tried just now, in fact. A paragraph or two in, I actually heard myself say, “This is just too hard for me.”

What is? Reading the book? I love books. Writing books? I love writing. So why the doubt? Who knows. Maybe it’s the holidays (Christmas in three days), maybe it’s my hormones, or maybe it’s all just part of being an intrinsic writer.

I’ve decided to leave my novel alone for a while. It’s been sitting in a green binder sprawled open on my work desk for months now, because as I rewrite and edit draft 2, I habitually look back to draft 1. I just closed it. Pushed it away. I think it needs some well-deserved dormancy. In the meantime I can concoct an editing plan, because you know something, I don’t really have an editing plan. I don’t think my editing skills are vigorous enough. No one–including myself–has ever taught me to revise effectively. All my writing classes have been great for method and story building, but not so much for revision. Maybe because everyone has his or her own style concerning the proverbial chop block. Or maybe because revision, frankly, sucks.

Here’s another thing about being that intrinsic writer I’ve been yapping on about: Sometimes, I wish I didn’t want it so badly. Imagine not expecting so much more of myself? I have a job, a fiance, a family, friends, a home, two sweet cats…what’s wrong with that. Nothing. I just want to write.

Then this questions routinely pops up, “well do I want to write–because I already do that–or do I want to publish?” The bright side to this is the fact that I always can write. Even if only for myself. There is definitely an upside to that. If nothing ever comes of this, then, well I can still do it. That, maybe, is what makes me an intrinsic writer.

So what is ‘too hard for me?’ Maybe I’m just making it hard. I suppose us intrinsic types do that too.

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Doubt

Lately, I find it hard to read works by other authors. I have a hard time entering book stores. Often, I’ll sample literary magazines and websites to get a feel for the kind of content each source tends to publish. It all just leaves me crestfallen.

There’s something about reading an engaging work by an already published author–or worse, entering a vault (hence, Barnes and Noble) in which many can be found. Is it jealousy? No, much worse than that; it is Doubt.

Here’s how it works. Last night, I picked up a new novel. I got under the covers, scanned the front cover, back cover, etc. Back in the days when I considered myself primarily a ‘reader,’ I’d dive right in. Open up to chapter one, and devour each page until I reached the final word. These days, now that I am releasing that previously caged, ‘intrinsic writer’ I find myself headed straight for the ‘about the author’ bit in the back. I NEVER used to care that much about the author. Unless I found it to be a particularly fascinating read, I often didn’t even consider the writer. It was all about the narrator, whether he/she served as a character or not. To me, that’s who told the story. It was like on some level (and all readers do this), I truly believed the narrator/first-person character actually wrote the damn tale. But the author? Nah, that was just some name on the front cover–and the spine.

So I read all about the author. Her acknowledgments, her response to all the novel’s praise. It was there I read a quick bit she did on writing a first-person narration from a male’s perspective. And I thought, Oh no, that’s what I did. That’s my book. That’s my narrator. My guy is a boy too! And I’m a girl!

Enter, Doubt. Well, I’m thinking, I bet she does it better than me. She was thirty-one when she wrote this book. I’m twenty-nine, not much time. What if every agent I plan on contacting in the future says the same thing about my book: been there, done that? What if I need to re-do the entire thing? Do I have time for that? She wrote the first draft in four months!? It took me eight! I slammed the book closed. Picked up my journal. Told myself to ‘calm down, you’ll get there,’ etc. etc. Then I wrote some more empty, bogus, inspirational messages to myself: Force yourself, Katie, one half-hour, read this woman’s novel. Don’t be afraid of it. She’s her, you’re you, right? Learn from the damn thing. Study. Evaluate. Examine.

So I begin. My first thought? How does she know so much about interior decoration? Did she research that? Or, as ‘intrinsic writers’ should we just know about this stuff? What the !@#$% is linoleum? Should I know this? I don’t describe rooms and houses in my book like this! Her male voice is better, her story’s better, this is why she’s published, and I’m not, she’s got it, I don’t. At this point, I chucked the book across the room, hoping to God I dented it somehow. My cats darted off the bed; it was bad. I crossed my arms and huffed. Really, I could see myself in the mirror; I looked pitiful. Intrinsic Writer my ass.

THAT, to all of you reading this, is my definition of “Doubt.” It’s there. It’s eats at us intrinsic types like lye to our skin. Unfortunately, it comes with the job. There are days when it doesn’t exist. My writing looks stupendous to me. The next day, often the very next day, I’m throwing perfectly good contemporary literature into door frames.

Since I’ve been doing this writing gig, I’m come to discover that there are only two things I’m certain of: 1) Perseverance is the only way, the only way, I will ever have a chance 2) I AM an intrinsic writer.

Oh, and, yes, I’m going to attempt to read that book again tonight. I’ll bet it’s a brilliant story.

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