Monday, April 22, 2013

The Outside World Presses In

Writing is a solitary profession. Period. Yes, we can meet with our writing colleagues at meetings and gather at conferences, but for the most part we act alone. No one can write our books for us. No one can revise our first drafts for us. And no one can force us to query or submit even when we are filled with doubts about achieving our goals.

Published or unpublished, we all fight demons. For the published authors there are real deadlines. That's great. Puts a fire under one's bottom and presses that author to work.

But me? No one is waiting for me to meet any deadlines right now. So I have to set my own deadlines which, to be honest, have been shifting daily due to outside world pressure and different expectations of myself as a writer.

I'm working hard, but real life has pressed in and I've had to fight for my writing time. Occasionally, I have to surrender to the outside pressure because it's immediate and important and intrinsic to the well-being of my family. And every interruption to my schedule impacts my ability to get back in the chair and diligently pursue a publication career.

And then there are my own demons. Personal ones that every writer, published and unpublished, struggle with all the time. Am I good enough? Have I really got what it takes to write well and write much? Did I say no to an opportunity only to lose the one chance I might have had to be published? Did I start too late? Is the story I'm working on right now good enough? Am I wasting my time? Am I wasting my family's time? Will I ever get paid for sitting here at this computer for hours on end to generate stories and ideas and more?

Do I care about the answers to these questions? Of course I care. However, I live in a delusional, imaginary world so I propose my own answers to these questions all the time. I need to otherwise I might quit. And if I quit, I reject myself.

Here are my answers: I become a stronger writer every time I sit down to write. I am a self-motivated and self-disciplined person who has the drive to work hard and work smart. There's more than one way to get published and I'm not shy about looking down every avenue. I have a wealth of experience to draw from whenever I sit down to write a story. My current story will become better as I continue to revise it and mold it into shape. If I am happy doing what I am doing, the time I put into it doesn't matter. My family is proud of my endeavors and they support me just as I am proud of their endeavors and support them. I will get paid for generating these stories because I have a plan of action which I am actively pursuing every day.

How do you beat back the world pressing in? How do you fight the demons of doubt and despair?


Gretchen Stull said...

It's always hard. I battle my own insecurities often where writing is concerned. I like your take on it, though. The pressures to not write (internal and external) will always be there, so it's just a matter of getting into the right mental state and powering through. Our stories will be better for it in the end :)

Christine said...

Yes, Gretchen, so true. And if we keep resetting the dial to a positive note, we'll get there!!


Ali Hubbard said...

This was soooo good, and I needed it. I struggle all of the time to find balance between things. I asked my husband last weekend if he thought this whole effort was a "colossal mistake."
But you are right. We support the people we love in the things that are important to them. And they feel the same way about us.

Christine said...

Ali, always remember to believe in the dream and enjoy the journey. It's such a great privilege to write stories and go off on imaginary trips.

If you have joy in what you are doing, the reward will be come in other ways and in tangible ways, too.