Thursday, June 16, 2022

Give them words.

I've become a writer. By choice, and by practice.

After years of wanting to be able to say that with any amount of legitimacy, I finally feel like I've found it. Even though I didn't earn the feeling the way I expected to. I've published nothing more than blog posts and some miniscule-content journals. But that doesn't even matter to me anymore.

When I study writing, I get it now. It sinks in. When I read, I see how the author wrote it. Sometimes I wish I didn't - without the fourth wall, the way I read is forever changed. 

But most importantly I'm just...finally not ashamed to be called a writer. My new therapist calls me a writer - recently she told me how she couldn't put her finger on something about me before I told her that I write, but then she immediately knew. "You speak like a writer," she'd said. "It's in the way you form your sentences and the words you choose - everything makes sense, now."

I didn't know what to do with that at first. I'd never been told that before, and it made me cry. To be seen that way - to be seen as what I've always wanted to be is an incredible feeling. And it's coming from several directions. I'm hearing it from friends, from my husband - from everyone that knows what I've been up to. The more my projects become reality, the more it just is. 

writing supplies

Maybe I've given myself permission to accept being a writer because I've written a whole novel. (I still can't believe I did it.) I did it in the sense that there's a 400+ page document containing 95,000 words about a couple of characters that I created out of a dream I had and some of their friends, but it's not...good.

It has its moments - but I wrote with the goal of getting it down and getting it done knowing that I could go back and fix it. And now...I don't really know the best way to do that. Sometimes, it feels like a hot mess. Steaming hot. There are some places where I either know what's lacking or how to fix it or both, but there are plenty of places where I don't know either. Where I just can't figure out how to make it work. Some of those chapters have been re-written three, five, seven times, and they're still not there. 

And I suppose this is where an editor steps in, but it doesn't even feel ready for that. In the same way one wants to clean before the cleaning service arrives, I want to make sure that I'm not wholly embarrassed by this manuscript. It needs polishing that I know I can still give it before it's fixed professionally, but the task feels tedious knowing that I'll have to look at all the glaring flaws while I do that. I will do it - because I'm a writer now, and because I love these characters as though I know them in my waking life. And because I want to be not just a writer, but an author. 

Man, that's interesting.

I've always wanted to publish something - to be a published author. It's my life's dream, second only to being a Mom. But for the first time in my life I actually want to build a career. Like a whole-ass, all-in, make it happen career. I will create it - even if it's only on a small scale. Even if it's only something I "do on the side." Because it's who I am. Because it always has been. 

But the doubts poke at me daily. They say things like - maybe I can't articulate things the way I think I can. Maybe my abilities as a writer haven't developed as much as I thought they did. Maybe I have no actual freaking clue what I'm doing. Laughably.  Maybe even the most voracious romantic fiction reader who loves a shitty, sappy novel for the respite it provides from this dumpster fire of a world would find what I've written to be absolute crap. It's not the story or the characters I'm worried about - it's the way I've delivered them to the world.

I told myself that I was going to spend time studying before I edit - reading books on writing, watching videos, reading more comps in the style of my story. All of that should arm me with more tools to polish my book. And I've been doing those things. But I'll be bumping along, collecting new understanding, and then suddenly need to get back to my book. I'll miss my characters, or feel like I got what I needed to fix one particular scene or chapter, but then I can't stop. Because I've gone back to their Universe (and I like it there - because it's mine to create, and there's no covid or school shootings or racism in their world), and I don't want to jump back out. Honestly, my superhero name would be Captain Hyperfixation. (Well, either that, or like...Indecision Girl! Able to avoid the smallest decision in a single bound!) The ADHD is strong with this one. OMG - no one tell my husband I just semi-quoted Star Wars. Clearly I've been force fed too much of that Universe.

I know I'll get there. I know there's a way forward and I'll figure it out. Because I spent 37 years wanting to write a book, and about 738 attempts later (approximately) I figured that out. I'll get this, too. But it's scary and shadowy and molassesy, so I'm calling it out from under the bed to spritz it with my monster spray. Looking it in the face. Talking to it. Communicating. Doing what I know best.

Because, the stickiest things in life, I find, are slowly cleaned up when you give them words.

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