I ate too many gummy bears. I can feel it. Like the sugar is dissolving in the pit of my stomach, making me feel full and utterly empty at the same time. But dammit, they’re so delicious. Especially the red and white ones. Together.
Sleepless night number… who’s keeping track? All I know is my brain feels the need to keep me up into the wee hours at least one night a week. Apparently Saturday is the night this week. I have no right being in front of a computer right now. My mind was mush earlier in the day, it can only be worse now. Like mashed potatoes left over night, and then microwaved the next dinnertime. Dense and soggy.
My stomach growls, reminding me of how little I’ve ingested today. One tomato and mozzarella panini from Chez Starbucks, some fruit, and about a pound of gummy bears. Add in two venti iced coffees, and I’m a freaking mess. I’m not even sure why I’m sitting here, other than a stirring wakefulness, and a natural urge to write. I really wish there was leftover pizza downstairs like last time. At least then there’d be something to look forward to at the end of this post. I’m sure I’ll still find my way down there, if only to scan the fridge with a discerning eye and ultimately decide just to go to bed.
My eyes are stinging, suddenly aware of the time. Where was that sensation an hour ago? Through the closed door, I can hear Trevor snoring from down the hall. At least one of us won’t look like complete crap tomorrow.
I’ve decided that I’m on the verge of something. Trevor claims that it’s brain exhaustion. It will probably come to that. I feel as if I’m riding that line between madness and brilliance. I’m working harder than I ever have before. Both at work and in my writing. But, I’m really talking about writing here, after all that’s what this blog is for. I’m putting in so much time. Some days fly by me, and I wonder how I did it. How did I wake up, immediately get dressed, and sit in the lobby of my Starbucks for six hours on my day off? Why?
The answer of course was that I was working. And that’s different. I’ve never referred to writing as my work before. And I don’t mean this is in a bad way. I don’t mean that writing, something I enjoy so very much, has become laborious or cumbersome. I mean that, for the first time, I’m truly taking it seriously. Even though I’ve known for years now that this is what I want to do with my life, I never fully bought it. I guess I thought I did, but I never really acted like it. I think I was afraid to. It’s frightening, knowing that the one thing you want to do will probably never come to anything. Or that you’ll fight tooth and nail to find some modest success.
Stephen King says that you can’t become a great writer if you’re only a good one now. That it’s too big a jump. If you’re competent now, you can become good with practice, and if you’re bad… well, you’re fucked. Excuse my french. I haven’t decided if I agree or not. The optimist in me really hates the idea. You can do anything if you try hard enough, and anything can be taught if you’re willing to work hard to learn. These are things I believe. Moral codes of my own. Tenets I live by.
But, the guy is insanely successful, and is really quite smart. There’s so much in his book that really strikes home, and makes so much sense. So… what if he’s right? Where does that leave me? Am I competent, struggling and working so hard to become good, and achieve what little success is apparently my due? Or, am I already good, and I’m doing all this work to stay in the same level, forever lost in the myriad shelves of passable fiction? I don’t think I’m bad. I would hope someone would have clued me in by now so I could figure out what I should be doing with my life instead. And I really just don’t feel like I’m great. And I doubt that’s just modesty. There’s so much to learn, and so many mistakes in my rough draft. The to-do list for the rewrite is really piling up.
And now I think I’ve struck a nerve.
I’ve put in more time and effort into this novel than any other work of fiction I’ve written. And I’m watching cliches and adverbs fall out of my brain, slide down my arms, onto my fingers and into the virtual world of Scrivener. And I just shrug and think, “that’s what editing is for.” I can see gaping holes in my plot, or character development, and I make a note that it needs figuring out, and then move along. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. I’m so good at editing. I LOVE editing, but everyone I talk to and everything I read says to keep plugging along on the rough draft.
So I’m going to. I am going to finish this novel, dammit, even if the rough draft is a total piece of crap. I’m afraid of what will come after. Maybe a month or two will pass, giving myself the distance to start something new, and see this novel with fresh eyes when it’s time to take the red pen to it. And I’m afraid of what I’ll see. I’m afraid that I’ll read it and just start laughing. Or maybe crying, though hopefully it’s not that bad. I guess I just feel like writing it the first time is hard enough. Editing the entire thing is going to be exhausting. But even now, as I’m trying to let my insecurities out, my optimism kicks in. Take it a chapter at a time. There’s no rush, no one to impress. You’re writing it a chapter at a time, and you’ll rewrite it the same way.
It gets kind of frustrating, always reassuring myself before I even fully understand what concerned me in the first place.
As for Mr. King’s theory… I don’t think he’s wrong. But, I do think his definitions of competent, good, and great, are a little different than mine. Maybe we’ll be on the same page someday, when I’ve written 160 stories. Right now I’m sitting on four and three quarters… but who’s counting?
Anyway, the eyelids are feeling a bit heavy, telling me that the blog has done the job. Sometimes I really do just need to give voice to my fears. Just admitting them to myself can make it all feel so much better. I wish the same worked for digesting gummy bears.