It’s a harsh confession, but a true one. Inevitably when I write, I hit a point where I absolutely hate what I’ve written. Sometimes this comes after I’ve finished something, which is the best time for it to happen. I walk away from what I’ve written, and then I come back after some time has passed. I almost always find that I actually like what I’ve written.
Sometimes, though, I begin to hate what I’ve written during the process of writing. Two weeks ago, I stopped writing the novel I started for NaNoWriMo. I got to 23k and just stopped. The voices of insecurity began to sound in my head: this is the worst idea ever. I hate this. It’s too hard. I can’t finish this. Even now, I freeze with fear. I’m not sure that I can do this.
The Sleepless Ones is the first work I’ve ever shared with others. My sister was the first person I explained the plot to, and I blushed through the explanation. I always feel like my ideas are stupid, particularly so because my preferred genre is fantasy. It’s not true that fantasy is somehow lesser than other forms of fiction, but I don’t imagine people will take my work seriously.
I’ve picked up some new followers, thanks to being freshly pressed, so I’ll give the summary of my book here:
In a world ruled over by seven divine Princes, magic is a thing of the lower class, to be used to serve the wealthy upper class. Acantha has known nothing but a privileged life, but when her parents are killed for sedition against the Princes, she must depend on the outcasts she learned to scorn. Now, she will come to realize that there are many secrets she never knew about her family and herself.
I cringe even reading the summary. I wrote it before I really got into the meat of the story, so it needs to be adjusted. But I often feel like I can never make this story sound good, because it’s not good.
Last night I looked at the story, and I do like it. It’s rough, certainly, but I think it could become something good. The challenge for me, right now, is to grit my teeth and tell the voice of insecurity to shut up and let me write.
In my about page, I say that I’m 481 kb of abandoned stories, because I have a file named Abandonedstories.doc that is indeed 481 kb. Most of it’s complete trash, stuff that I wrote when I was thirteen. Vampires and ghosts and government plots. Nothing worth salvaging, not even worth saving, but I keep it on an external hard drive. It sits with other stories that I never finished, and it’s not the biggest file on there.
The longest thing I ever wrote was entitled The Water and Words series, and the first book of that series was called Sleepless Ones. It was 53,829 words long. It was very Charles Dickens meets Harry Potter, and reading it now, I don’t like it. There are a lot of issues with narrative voice and it’s bloated with details about nine parallel worlds. I began to write it when I was sixteen, and it shows.
But I remember the thrill of writing this story. I remember daydreaming about passages I was looking forward to writing. I even designed a cover for it.
Writing was different for me when I was a teenager. I didn’t worry that what I was writing was dumb or uninspired. It was fun, and I loved my characters and the worlds I created. That’s harder for me to do now, when I am overcome by anxiety. Now, I want to publish my writing, but I become so terrified at the thought of being judged that there are times when I can’t even bear to look at what I’ve written.
Other times, I can look objectively at my writing, and I do think it can be published. For some writers, the hardest part of writing is editing. That’s my favorite part. I like to delete out of place sentences and fuss over word choice. Actually getting the words down is what’s hardest for me.
This isn’t exactly the path I expected to be on. I thought I’d have a job–somewhere, anywhere. Right now writing is the only option I’ve got. I have to at least try to make this happen.
I’ve never had someone tell me that I’m not a good writer. Ever since I started writing, people have praised me. My greatest challenge has always been the voice inside me that tells me that everything I write is crap. I have no choice but to face that voice down, now.