I’ve got to be honest in saying that I wasn’t expecting my next post here to be another essay on the difficulties I’ve been having. I’ve done some cool things in the last month that I wanted to share instead of this. But sometimes life just gets you down and the cool stuff just seems like it was a waste of time.
I’ve made a lot of progress in the last few months, personally and professionally. I’ve done things I never thought I would’ve done even six months ago. I finally plotted a book, I’ve written just over 34,000 words of that book, I’ve made manuscripts and have a couple of readers in place. And this is beside the things in my real-life job that I’ve dealt with.
I just — and I have this problem with a lot of things in my life — don’t feel proud of any of that, or in any way accomplished, really. I haven’t written much in the last few weeks — maybe 5,000 words. The only thing of note that’s happened is an email from one of our owners telling me I handled an issue with a guest admirably, and even that was ‘meh’ at best. I’m just in such a rut.
I’m going to be straightforward, because that’s the best way to deal with these things, I think: I feel like a fraud. I feel like I’ve talked a big game and now I can’t deliver. It’s honestly kind of embarrassing. I call myself a writer. It’s not the only thing I’m good at (because I am good at many things) but it’s the one that has the most value to me. It’s the one that has always been sort of central to my identity. I just… don’t feel like one a lot of the time. I feel like somehow I’ve cheated every single person I’ve ever interacted with into thinking that’s what I am, or that’s what I do, or that’s what I’m good at.
Lately, I’ve been lucky to even open up the text of my book without feeling nauseated about it. I’ve been wasting time drawing out timelines and working on character designs and societal models for something that’s at least a book ahead of what I’m writing. I’ve wasted more time watching Yu-Gi-Oh and playing Midnight Cinderella than I care to admit, as well. (Hi, my name is Lyndsay, and I am, in fact, an adult.)
I feel like everything I’ve written so far could just as well be thrown in the trash as not. I feel like I’ve wasted so much time writing all this stuff that is worthless and loose and vague. I feel like the more I write the less usable material I actually have. I feel like I haven’t spent enough time developing my characters, or my setting, or setting up my subplots, or even actually moving the main plot forward.
I’ve gotten tied up in a tangent involving a new coat.
I’ve gotten tied up in a tangent about a play, which relates to the tangent about the coat.
I’ve gotten tied up in a half-present relationship involving one of my main characters and a secondary.
I’ve gotten tied up in trying to include a character I haven’t thought through properly.
And the dumb thing is that I know I’m doing this. I screw off and write unnecessary bullshit when I’m not confident about the path ahead. But I have a whole plot outline. I know where things need to go, at least in general. I have a plan about how this story is meant to progress. I just can’t stick to it. I can’t actually get everyone in the car and get out of the driveway because I’m too busy playing with something I found while I was trying to pack.
But I don’t know how to focus, either. I’ve read the articles. I’ve read the top-ten tips lists by nearly every well-known author. These things just don’t work for me.
My schedule is such that setting aside one particular time to write (which, trust me, is in every one of those articles and lists) and sticking to it is near impossible. My time works oppositely of most people, which means that when I get off work at 7am, if I have things that need done, they get done immediately after work, then I go home and (try to) go immediately to bed. But the time those things take varies. Sometimes I can go straight home, sometimes I don’t get home until noon. So then my sleep is irregular, and that takes writing before work off the table as well.
And I know I’ve said I get paid to work 8 hours when I actually only do 2 hours of work, but things come up here at the desk, too. Sometimes I get stuck doing registration cards for two hours. Sometimes I have to spend 45 minutes checking every linen closet in the entire building for something for a guest. Sometimes I have to (call someone to) break up arguments in the hallways at some ungodly hour. Sometimes nearly everyone in the building wants to check out before 7am. And these are things I have no control over.
But even if I did have the time, I don’t have the space. There is literally nowhere in my life that I can go to be minimally distracted and maximumly inspired. This is mostly because my house does not actually belong to me and I do not feel that I have the right to make decisions about how to divide its space and/or furnish it.
And I have so many issues with the “READ” suggestion and the “WRITE EVERY DAY” thing that I won’t even discuss them. They irritate me.
If I were to write a top-ten list, it would look something like this:
- Fuck what everyone tells you about writing and do what works for you.
- – 10. Refer to point 1.
I guess the point is I don’t know what works for me, and I don’t have the drive to “just get it written,” either. (Nor do I have any desire for anyone to check up on me about it. Literally nothing is more infuriating than someone looking over my shoulder. Just leave me be.) One of my problems is that the beginning part of that phrase is “don’t get it right.” I can’t do that. I can’t write something down until I know it’s accurate, otherwise I dwell on it as I progress. And then I go back and find the parts that aren’t right and end up rereading and then my editor kicks in and I either want to rewrite every other sentence or scrap the scene entirely.
I have so many complexes about writing it’s almost amusing. Almost. Except that it’s actually mostly pitiful and not amusing at all.
And I feel like I’m talking in circles now and not actually making a logical progression, but instead of editing, I’m just going to end this post with a request: if you or someone you know can offer advice about how to screw my head on straight about this nonsense that I’ve thus far referred to as writing a book, please do. God knows I could probably use it.