To quote Julia Child in a letter to her co-author and friend, Avis, “HELL AND DAMNATION, is all I can say. WHY DID WE EVER DECIDE TO DO THIS ANYWAY? But I can’t think of doing anything else, can you?”
I’ve been taking a short break from writing after hitting an extremely rough patch about halfway through the novel. Over and over, I have been told that this is perfectly normal, but it does nothing to diminish the awfulness and subsequent self-loathing. At this point, the following became pertinent questions:
1. Is this something I want to write anymore?
2. Is this really something anyone is going to want to read?
3. What is the meaning of life and why is it absolutely nothing at all?
There are probably a lot of trite things I could say but the truth is that I’m still figuring out things as I go and I think I’d feel better in this world if more people did that as well. It makes sense that all we ever see of a finished product is, well, the finished product, but reading about the (often long) histories of how other books, inventions, and successes came to be makes me feel a lot less like giving up altogether.
For now I’m trying to get back in the swing of things with significantly less self-pity and anxiety for the future. What seems to help most is not bemoaning what will not be simply because there is still time to keep trying or something.
(This is not true. This is placating. This is the blog post everyone writes and it is the fake smile one wears because someone orders you to smile. And so, the reality: The words and words are piling up and I know I’ll feel better if I let them out, that it will be just like vomiting and what will initially follow will be stark relief. But then will come the clean-up and, shit, that’s the hard part. And then what if all that comes out are the ugliest cliches and the trite boring plotlines I’ve been fighting against from the start? The rewriting and rewriting can be good — has been very good — but all I end up doing is rewriting in circles and calling it progress. At times it feels good unraveling the puzzle, searching for the solutions, but then I take a step back and see my exhaustion mirrored in my characters and…I have to wonder if I’m doing the right thing at all.)
Okay. But the fact is people are putting out a shitload of art every day (see above horse-head, lady-body) and being bitter about their accomplishments has little to do with my own failures. Books are going to continue being published regardless of whether or not I stop writing. As much as I would like to stay in my mire of emotion, wallowing in the self-righteous flights of fancy about how great my story ideas could be if written, at some point doing the actual writing is the only thing that will satisfy. It is also the only thing that is going to eventually be publishable.