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.
Hold breath. Release.
Relax. It’s okay.
Sure. Yes. It’ll be okay.
So it went on Monday. My wife and I left on a car-cation. Just a road trip to Yachats. I wanted to write, of course, but I knew she was jealous of that. She wanted to break out of our regular structure of existence, hence the trip to the coast.
So, with reluctance, I agreed without speaking to her unspoken concern. It’s the kind of thing that works after being married through a few ice ages.
I worried, though, oh, I worried that I’d forgotten what I’d written, where I was in the ms., and what I was about to write or change. It helped that I was on draft number seven of April Showers 1921. It’s probably ninety percent written, with changes being made to sculpt the story, structure the plot, polish the prose, and exercise the pace. Still, I worried that the muses might decide to teach me a lesson because I’d ignored them for four days.
A more rational aspect of me reassured me that all would be well. That piece of me proved correct. I sat down with my computer and cuppa coffee today, opened the doc, and said, “Oh, that’s right. This part is wordy and awkward and needs some lovin’.”
Then I was off. Good day of writing — and editing — like crazy. Good to be back. Time to go on to other things.
Butt’s asleep, ya’ know? Yeah, writer’s butt; it’s the worse. They never warned you about writer’s butt when you told them you wanted to be a writer, did they?
I’d come in, fired up the ‘putin’ machine (no, not the one that make everything that comes out look or sound like Putin), had my coffee, and settled in to write. Problem was that I didn’t know what to write.
In the course of revising April Showers 1921, I added another layer. It’s worked well. I was ready to end that layer. I didn’t know how. I’d been thinking about it but nothing came to me.
And then, hands on keyboard, the muse arrived and conducted, as a muse will. A scene flashed on my mind’s edge. Words arrived. I typed. The scene took off, becoming multiple scenes and dialogue, becoming a chapter. Walking away from it much satisfied with the results, I continued thinking about it as I conducted my post-writing walking review, and the next pieces came to me. Arriving yesterday and setting up, I took up with that, and had more terrific results. Then, today — yep, again, for a hat trick.
It was an intense and productive three days. I feel like I’m just coming back up for air.
I know it’s not a muse, but deep recesses in my mind shooting neurons at mental walls until something sticks and some sort of Jackson Pollack-like story ideas gel. It’s easier, simpler, and more elegant to just attribute it to the muse, though.
Besides, you never know. If it is a muse, sure as hell don’t want pull a Joey Tribbiani* and upset them.
Done writing like crazy for at least one more day. Cheers
* If you need the explanation…
Joey Tribbiani was a Friends character played by actor Matt LeBlanc. (Friends was a U.S. television sitcom on NBC last century.) Joey was an actor who achieved success on a daytime television soap opera. During an interview, Joey claimed that he wrote most of his own lines. The writer wasn’t happy and promptly killed the character.