So if I’m a writer by nature…what stopped me? Huh, good question. There’s an awful lot of excuses, not much in the way of reasons. I got busy. I was distracted by life, love and the pursuit of happiness. I had to recover from writing for a living. I had a creative outlet when I made jewelry and didn’t feel so much of the urge.
All of those are true, more or less, as I look back on my life. And maybe in some future blog…I’ll revisit some of them. But for right now, I’m going to stare one dead on. One I haven’t mentioned yet. The miserable beast…
Yeah, about that.
I remember discussing writing with someone…oh, a little more than 5 years ago, I guess. Don’t remember who or most of the particulars of the discussion…if it was someone that knew I was a writer or if in conversation I’d revealed that I’d written in the past. I don’t even remember who it was, except that it was a guy. I told him I’d written a novel, and he asked to see it. I responded that I threw it out. He was flabbergasted. Thought it could have been saved. Asked me if I was writing anything currently. Well, no. I had answered. See, I didn’t have any unique ideas.
Unique ideas? Yep. That was my excuse at the time. And to a certain point, I thought it was true. When I thought about my literary idols, I just felt pathetic. Incompetent. Amatuer. And several other very harsh, unflattering adjectives. They were geniuses. They were brilliant. There was no way anything I could write would ever compare.
And it probably still won’t. But somehow I managed to get myself out of that particular pit of quicksand.
Sometimes I wish “now me” could reach back through time and heartily bitch-slap “then me.” <sighing loudly>
Not that I’m over the insecurity. Not even close. I think in some ways I’ve simply been able to forgive myself for not being perfect, not being “good enough,” not living up to this bizarre perfectionist standard. It’s okay to be second, third, fourth…whatever. Hell, at this point, I’m just aiming to be published. And I might be able to accomplish that if I work really hard at this. Writers more talented than me have been published. Writers worse than me have been published. That makes me sort-of average. I’m finally very comfortable with that. Average would still indicate I could do what I feel the urge to do, get paid for it, and live happily-ever-after.
I am still insecure, of course. But now it’s under control. I check on it cosntantly. I’ve been researching and researching. After all, it’s been YEARS since I wrote anything. I’m a bit rusty. To the internet I go, searching out advice. So far, so good. A lot has been very encouraging. There’s the attitude of “if you’re willing to put in the work, you can do this.” Which helps tremendously.
I’m getting little fixes of self-esteem as well. Of course, the fixes sometimes come after the self-esteem plunges. Recently, I was researching and there were a couple of sites out there in cyberland, that had indicated that all fantasy fiction (which is my chosen genre preference) must be written in the first person.
I had already written about half this book (or more!) when I came upon this opinion. I was panic stricken. I prefer a third person point of view, it’s easier for me to think as a narrator than a first person when writing fiction. Can’t explain it…well, I could but if you’re not into writing, I’d bore your pants off (and this isn’t an adult site, so keep your pants on, please!).
So I began a death-spiral of insecurity. I was wrong. Again. I was very close to giving up, chucking the whole thing. It would be simpler than starting over, after all, which is basically what I’d have to do in order to switch the point-of-view. Grrr.
Fate stepped in (as it often does) right about this moment. I had a Barnes and Noble gift card leftover from Christmas. Hubby and I found ourselves there…another “date night” (and the buy 2 get one free sale they run every January on DVDs). I’d chosen most of the movies I wanted, he was still perusing the aisles. So I breezed over to their “how-to” section. Okay, I didn’t exactly breeze. I walked all over the entire place looking for it, and finally gave up and asked a girly at the information desk. Apparently, the section had just been moved becauase she wasn’t sure, either. Eventually, I found the section on writing, and grabbed a copy of “Characters & Viewpoint” by Orson Scott Card.
I’m not really insecure about my characters. I’ll admit, I feel that’s my strong suit. But I began at the beginning, and read everything he had to say on that topic. I’m glad I did because that gave me another little security-surge since I was already using some of the methods he proscribed…and my characters passed the tests that he suggested. Great! So I kept going…
Now, realize…high school was an awfully long time ago for me. Let me put it this way…people who were born the year I graduated are more than old enough to drink already. And because I was in honor track English, I didn’ t have any real grammar instructions after…oh, Freshman year or so. We jumped right into studying literature after that. So…well, you see, there’s an awful lot of stuff, basic stuff, that I’ve forgotten.
Turns out, the point-of-view method I use isn’t strictly “third person,” but what is known as “third person limited.” And, he suggests, very useful depending on the genre being written, the story being told. WHOOOOOOT! Massive sigh of relief! And a slight security surge.
I knew, instinctively, what I was doing. I forgot the terminology, but because I am a “writer by nature,” not necessarily by instruction, I was able to navigate my way through completely blind. I guess I should have trusted myself more.
I’m sure insecurity will raise it’s ugly head again. It always does. I have learned a valuable lesson, though. Knowledge is one of the main enemies of insecurity. Rather than tear myself apart with self-doubt, I am now determined to go back to teh bookstore and get a LOT more books. Not on “how to write a book” necessarily, but on the basics…mostly punctuation and grammar. I want to be prepared the next time insecurity comes a-knocking.