I got a book idea– number 2! –and then promptly shut down. Now, there are some massive emotional upheavals happening in my life currently (to put it lightly) and it would be easy to push my inability to produce a product off onto that. But there are also times when things are mellow and lovely and the words won’t come, so it’s not fair to just point to this one thing as the cause. In the parlance of the internet, WHAT DO?
I just hit on a realization for myself. We’re all different, we all have our own methods, but here’s what I’ve just figured out about myself.
I’m…I’m a dragon.
No, that’s ridiculous. I’m a story-block. That’s like a… person who blocks a dude from getting some. Let’s call it a person who stops the rooster from getting in the hen house, a cockblock. But with story. I feel like this explanation is getting away from me.
My writing buddy has been (gently) asking me what’s going on with my writing, knowing that writing is an excellent form of therapy for me on most days. And I’ve hemmed and hawed, dancing around the problem.
I know the story I want to write. I know the characters. I have my story-bible with all of their important arcs, descriptions, etc. marked out, as well as locations, relationships outlined, and so on. I mean, there’s nothing stopping me. But that’s a dirty damned lie because no words are coming.
I started writing a list of what was wrong, and it started out silly and defeatist, and then I hit pay dirt. I hit on the real reason why.
- I suck.
- I’m a fraud.
- No one is going to like it.
- I don’t think I can write women in love (ha, going through a divorce is the worst, guys!)
- I’m afraid I’m going to be offensive.
- I’m afraid I’m not going to represent PoC in a way that’s helpful.
- I’m afraid of disappointing people who matter to me.
- I don’t want to hurt people who are important to me because I wrote this poorly.
- Maybe I shouldn’t be trying.
- Maybe me writing about people who I am not, who have experienced things I’ve not experienced is me appropriating their experience.
- I feel like this is a massive responsibility and I’m not talented enough to handle it.
I teared up when I realized what my problem was: I have it in mind that this story has to be perfect from the start. I have to represent every little thing in a woman’s world PERFECTLY or I’ll have to turn in my Feminist Card. (I just had it laminated, too! Got a little sporty one on a keychain, as well.)
Who does this? Who believes that everything they write has to be out the gate perfect? Well, they’ve got two thumbs and just lifted them from the keyboard to point at yours truly. And this is patently ridiculous. Not the effort, not the desire to do well, but the idea that a) it’s going to be JUST RIGHT or NOT AT ALL from the get-go, and b) that someone, somewhere isn’t going to like it.
I’m letting potential criticism get in the way of the wordmobile, and that’s stinking thinking. Now, that’s not to say that wanting to produce a high quality product at the end isn’t what we all should strive for as writers, just that I can’t let the end result dictate the actual work I’m doing. And I certainly believe that people shouldn’t write things that are purposely offensive or hurtful.
I don’t know, I think I’ve hyped myself up into thinking I have an imagined responsibility to people I don’t know to approve of what I’m doing and that’s crazy talk. Right?
Fear is a dumb, shambling beast of an emotion, one that smashes around in your head, knocking things over, ripping open doors that you meant to stay closed, and in my case, shuts the whole thing down. So my goal is to put a shock collar on this Fear of mine and Taze it into submission. I feel like I can’t consider myself a writer if I don’t, you know, write.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. Let’s face it, it won’t be. But it can be done. And I can always retool, tinker with, flesh out or cut. What I can’t do is alter or tighten something that doesn’t exist. *cracks knuckles* Now to tell that stupid voice in my head to shaddup.
How’s it going with you, Fellow Word Wrangler? Hopefully you’re sticking to your goals and running your little words through the Imagination-a-Tron and transforming them into beautiful stories of your own.