Another writing slash self-examination of myself post. It’s all about me, you know…
Writing often is about the author, whether it’s the process or subject, the writer is deep into it. I’m too damn introspective for my own good, and I’m a fragile beast.
I’m struggling with April Showers 1921. Much of the struggle is my fault; some is due to life events.
Life events kept me from writing several times. Vacation. Vacation is a good thing, right? Not for this writer, as it meant not writing. Felt like someone was scraping the enamel off my teeth.
Other life events, a birthday party, memorial service, surgery and health issues, interfered with my writing habits. Those, though, could be overcome. I felt confident of that.
Harder to overcome was my doubts about what I was writing and the story that I was relating. “Overthinking” is the world. Overthinking let in the doubt monster. The doubt monster fed my writer angst. Next up was a full blown case of imposter syndrome worries.
I walked and fretted, ate and fretted, awakened and fretted…fretting accompanied everything. I was engaging in one of the worst and most common problems afflicting writers, trying to write for others instead of myself. It took me until this morning to realize it. A young woman’s tatoo finally awakened.
She’s a barista at my fave coffee shop. On her left wrist was a tattoo, “Be brave.”
I’ve known her for four years. She graduated from high school a year early. She was sixteen. She then took a year off to travel Thailand and southeast Asia. She said tattoo was a reminder.
After speaking with her, I went on a walking break. I admired her and her tattoo. I’d never tattooed anything on myself, but I employed a mantra: “No fear, no doubt, no worries.” I’d developed it when I was young to help me overcome those things. Others were always saying that they saw things in me and nominating me for stuff or asking me if I wanted to try something.
What kind of cad would say no to such sugary words? Not me. Between genes, birth order, and socialization, I’m just a boy who can’t say no. I want others to like me too much. I don’t want to disappoint them. I fear disappointing them.
That’s where and when the mantra was born. People would tell me, “You got this. You can do it.” Nodding, I’d agree without speaking, and then tell myself, “No fear, no doubt, no worries.” I frequently added, “Focus.” Results were often excellent, usually surprising all of us.
Remembering that, I turned back to the times when I employed that mantra and achieved good results, and decided, time to drag that mantra out again.
No fear, no doubt, no worries.
Time to continue writing and editing like crazy, at least one more time.
I’ve been laughing at myself. When I finished the first draft of April Showers 1921, I thought, what a mess. Then I began hunting for what to do.
I found problems with structure, character motivation, pacing, story-telling… Whatever could go wrong seemed present. Very disheartening.
I began hunting fixes, slicing like a surgeon removing tumors. Draft two was finished and stalled, then three was written and discarded, followed by four. I lamented to myself, “This is like telling the history of World War II. So much happened. How do I find the right handle to it?”
That lament helped. Although I was complaining, it was true. The novel sprawled in a million directions. I needed to reduce the sprawl and improve the story.
Meanwhile, in parallel, I was reading thrillers. I was reminded of a Stephen King quote: “I showed them what can happen, and then I make them wait for it to happen again.” I’m paraphrasing. Forgive me. Maybe it wasn’t King, too, but I thought it was.
Whoever came up with that quote, it helped me sharpen my story’s focus, and tightened my grip on the sprawl.
I created some rules for myself.
- Head down. Focus, and stay focused. Work hard. Concentrate.
- Stay humble. Ride the wave. It’s a long ride, so manage your energy and emotions.
- Write better. Tell a better story. Sharpen your story-telling skills.
The last was revealing. I’d always concentrated on writing, putting words after words, fixing pacing and finishing novels and stories. Now, I decided that I needed to elevate my efforts and focus on being a better writer. That would hopefully result in a better story and novel.
It required hard decisions. Cut this arc. Modify that one. Tens of thousands of words were shred.
Partway through draft number seven. I think I’ve found a grip. I won’t know until I’ve finished and read it through again.
Done writing and editing like crazy for today. Time to go for a walk and let myself decompose.