“Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness.” — Willa Sibert Cather
It’s another slow night here on desk duty, so I thought I should write a round-up of an update post, to sort of get everyone on the level with what’s happening.
The last couple weeks at the Lodge have been busy, with Rally Weekend, Laurel Festival, and the Fourth falling so close to each other. We have a big bike group coming in a week from now, and after that is the Canyon Marathon, but from there out it looks like smooth sailing.
That being said, I haven’t had quite as much free time to write as I’d like to, although I did hit 16,000 words this morning. This next scene is killing me, because the characters are a little too excited for it and they’re sort of screwing up the flow of action. I’m also having a mental battle over whether or not to include apples at this time, because apples are symbols and symbols mean things, even though I don’t really mean anything by their inclusion other than a neutral conversation starter. I’ll probably still write them in. Let people think what they want.
I also finally made manuscripts. Granted, they’re just the printed text in three-inch binders, but they’re something, and I’m proud of them, and excited to watch as they fill with pages. I’m also excited for the imminent editing discussions with my alpha readers. (Yes, I will, at some point, need beta readers – how long it will be I am not sure. But if you’re interested, keep your eyes peeled for that announcement.)
My ex-boss got fired from her position last week, a moment which I have been waiting for since she took the store in February of 2012. If you remember, she fired me for petty and duplicitous reasons and I was more than a little peeved about it. Still can’t say that I would even piss on her if she were on fire, honestly.
I’m also having those feelings about someone else at the moment, but I’ll keep that to myself.
Someone grossly important to me was in the hospital this weekend. (That person is fine and should be coming home soon, but I won’t discuss any further details for their privacy.) That’s something I never really want to experience again. I know they’ll read this, so to be very direct: You know how much I hate hospitals and it is a testament to how much I fucking love you that I set foot in one without being unconscious or in life-threatening peril. (We’ll save the discussion of my distaste for doctors/hospitals/medical care facilities for another day.) Also, no, I do not want to punch you in your big, stupid head, although I agree that it is big and stupid. I do not dislike you, I love you. You know that. I dislike the situation. I have also sent you messages about my exact feelings about all of this, so I won’t repeat them publicly. Suffice to say some low blows were made by several people involved (and I trust you know what I refer to – if not, trust that I have a lot to say about it) and I don’t have any ill feelings toward you because of them.
I consider all of these things to be lessons of sorts. Everything can teach you something, and it seems like the cosmic flow has been throwing a lot of teachers at me lately.
Chatty male guests to teach me patience.
Firings to teach me that patience pays off.
Writing hiccups to teach me perseverence.
Hospitalizations to teach me fortitude, and grace.
I also learned something else recently, in the form of what I look at as a watershed moment.
I don’t really know how much I subscribe to what I suppose you could call “spiritualism:” astrology, mediums, karma, supreme beings or energies or predestinations. What I do know is that when this stuff is accurate, it’s scary accurate. I particularly enjoy astrology, which a lot of people openly scoff at. I’m not mad. They have their beliefs and that’s okay. But most people don’t understand that astrology readings are more than your sun sign. You’re not just a Leo, or just an Aquarius. You’re a lot of things in a lot of different ways, and no two people are the same because no two people are born in the same place at the same time. That’s why your horoscope isn’t accurate, because you’re checking the listing for Taurus when you should be looking at several other signs as well. Here’s my chart:
It’s complicated, right? That’s because every planet (and some comets, and a few other things) all have different signs, and affect you, your personality, and your life in different ways. Personally, although my Sun is in Gemini, my Ascendant sign (the one on the horizon at the time of my birth) is Scorpio. These two things could hardly be more different: while Gemini is an adaptable, mutable air sign, Scorpio is an inflexible, fixed water sign, and those two things, in combination with my Virgo moon, pull me in very different ways.
But this is not about astrology. Well, kind of, but I’ll save the in-depth things for another post, if I ever get around to it.
This is what I want to say regarding astrological whatever.
Last week I was seriously having a moment about my writing. Any artistic/creative type will tell you that their greatest talent is also probably their greatest insecurity. I am no different in this. I have days where everything I’ve ever written is awful and I am a sham and have somehow cheated everyone who’s ever complimented me into thinking that I’m something I’m not. A week ago I was sort of having one of those days. One of those, “who am I kidding trying to write a novel when I can barely even finish a short story without getting bored,” and “even if I finish this I will never get published because even fucking Harry Potter got rejected twelve times before it was finally picked up,” and “even if I do publish I’ll never have the success of other authors and what’s the point if I can’t make this, this thing that I want to do with everything I have, into my career,” days. My work falls somewhere between “High Fantasy” (think Tolkien) and Sword and Sorcery, another fantasy subgenre defined by magic and romance. It’s based on a strange time period for fantasy work, falling somewhere between the French Regency (1715-1723) and English Georgian (1714-1830) periods. Most “traditional” fantasy obviously falls into either medieval or renaissance-era bases, or is set in the modern, real world. (That’s another subgenre called “Low Fantasy.”) The plot isn’t even entirely fantastic in its progression, though I don’t want to detail it too much here. It’s just… odd.
For some reason I decided that reading Patrick Rothfuss’s Wikipedia page would be a good idea. (I probably spend more time on Wikipedia than is healthy, but that’s beside the point.) I don’t even know I how I got there, though it was probably somehow by way of the fantasy literature page. I read it, and looked at the list of publications, and the list of honors and awards, and I thought something. And it was a strange thought.
I thought, Pat probably spent innumerable years working on his Kingkiller stories before he even wrote a single word of them. He probably drew maps and planned cities and worked out backstories. He probably did years worth of research about topics that only barely mattered to the way his stories progressed. He probably stared at that tauntingly blinking cursor on his screen for longer than even he cares to admit. He probably second-guessed some of the scenes in his books that I think are his most brilliant. He probably has days where he feels like his work is trash, too.
I don’t usually take to solidarity as a comforting thing. Usually it’s repulsive at best. Usually I don’t care that other people have been in my position or can empathize with how I feel. But this, this really hit me. And it was two in the morning and I was sitting here at my desk, in the lobby of this hotel, and I damn near cried with the amount of emotion and meaning in what I had just realized.
And I don’t know why the urge came, but I checked my horoscope then, and this is one part of what it said:
And that’s what I felt in that moment: that other people had done it, had written bestsellers in their spare moments at their dead-end jobs, barely making enough money to pay rent and eat in the same month. Other people had thought that their dream of writing something good enough to publish, let alone worthwhile enough to grow a readership, was a joke. Other people had been in this exact moment where I was right now, realizing that regardless of their nine to five and their finances and their unsupportive ego, they could do the thing they wanted to do – or needed to do, as creators – to feel whole.
Writing this genre-bending, badly-composed, ill-plotted, romantic trash heap of a novel is the worst fucking idea I’ve ever had. I spend more time researching shit like the history of corsetry and herbal medications and coin-based currency systems than I do actually writing, and I’m lucky if I can crank out a thousand words in a day. It tests my patience and my self-worth every time I open up the document, every time I see that goddamned incessantly blinking cursor at the end of a word, or a sentence, or a paragraph, every time I insert the symbols which signify a time jump and I wonder if I have spent enough time explaining the thing I was just writing, or if I have overexplained and ruined the nuance of the scene. Every time my leads do something so disgustingly happy and in-love I want to punch in their imaginary faces and bury them both.
But I’ve never been happier. And I realize now that this is the only thing I want to do for the rest of my life.