Saturday, August 06, 2011

Identity Crisis #1

Warning:  The following post may ramble a bit. 

It's that uncomfortable place where anxiety, momentum, and perfectionism smack into a rapidly deflating self-confidence.  In this case, I am sharing this particular moment of truth with my main character and I'm not sure who will come out if this ahead...or even alive.  Plodding through this latest WIP, Maggie's back story keeps getting richer, but what lies ahead for her and for me remains lost in a fog bank.  I keep writing her character in my head, embracing each little epiphany and checking it off for revision later.

But what about now?  I'm working on the last rise towards the climax and I seem to be stuck on a ledge, terrified to climb up but absolutely petrified to look down.  Where do I go from here?  I'm fighting the urge to go back to the beginning and start revising.  Maybe starting again will give me more momentum to get over this hump and realize her character and the plot more fully.  But the other part of me is saying, "NO!  Stay on the path and get to the end and plant your flag so you know where to go when you make your second journey through this tale." Which voice do I listen to?  Do I let go and repel down the side of the mountain and start again or keep climbing hand over hand until I reach the top?

Behind all of this is my own insecurity and doubt.  Every writer goes through this.  I know that.  The tape in my head keeps saying, "You should have been there by now," and I have a hard time seeing the growth and the miles I have come already.  I keep hoping that I'm stuck in a time warp and it really hasn't taken this long to get this close but still not there.  No such luck.  I am where I am and I'm kicking myself for not performing better.

Today, I stopped by the library to grab something new to read, something to distract me a little so my other neurons can fire less self-consciously.  Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why ended up in my bag, though I can't believe I haven't read it already.  I remember Jay's posts on the Blue Boards way back when he was feeling what I feel right now.  He was ready to give up on writing and being published.  Okay, "ready" may not be the best word for this feeling.  I'll never really be ready to give up and neither was he.  But he was feeling defeated and unsure, just as I am now.

Then magic happened.  He got a book contract.  Soon came the accolades for his work and the speaking engagements and now a movie.  He had been on that ledge, wondering if he could ever climb that last stretch, and somehow he found the strength to keep going and flew to the top.  I'm sure he will tell you that it was and still is hard work, as it is for all writers, even after you "arrive." Writing is not for the faint of heart or the fatally insecure.

So where/who am I now?  I'm with Maggie, I guess.  Not fully formed.  Impatient.  Expecting perfection from myself.  Afraid of failure...and success.  Worried that the magic may have passed me by or judged me lacking in some infinite way.  It's funny.  I guess in some ways I feel like...well...a teenager.

Maybe it's time to pick myself up and draw on that hormone-induced mania that makes adolescence so much fun.  Use it.  Listen to that 17-year-old voice in my head and let it lead me, and Maggie, to the next stop.  Onward and upward, right?

...but I'm drawing the line at re-living acne and incomprehensible mood swings, okay?


  1. I've always heard it said that you should just write to get it all out and then rewrite to make it good, but (as you know) I disregarded that piece of advice earlier this week.

    I've also heard that you have to write whatever way works best for you and for the story you're working on. That advice makes a little more sense to me.

    My experience is pretty limited, but it seems to me like you're doing the right thing by considering whether you should go back and revise or if you're just worried about sticking the landing. Deep down, I think you know the way to go. Good luck!

  2. I recently read Jay's post. It was inspirational to see that he went past the gloom to make a success out of himself, and I know it's possible.

    I became insecure and doubtful with one of my current wips, but my betas and crit group made me see that with rewrites I could reshape and polish it.

    Good luck with your wip. You can do it.

  3. I wish I could even get so far in my writing as to be able to create characters capable of being developed. Interesting post.

    masterymistery at
    cosmic rapture

  4. I've tagged you for a blog award. Hope you don't mind. The details over at my place. Happy writing!


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