Hooray! I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night, panic-stricken about my COFFEE blog deadline to write this one. It is nice to not be blearily guzzling caffeine and frantically typing out this post at the crack of sparrow fart before my kid wakes up. And I’m hoping the fact that I gave myself a whole day in advance to write this time will make my writing less rambling and more cohesive. (I can dream, can’t I?)
My son has been healthy, and he’s back in school 9:00-2:30 every weekday, so I have resumed writing quite often. I’ve been rotating the fun, no pressure, minimal editing blog I started (Literary Lampshade) with working on my novel idea in the less intimidating chapter-at-a-time format.
I have also been doing what I somewhat self-deprecatingly call "Dear Diary blogging" for my personal site (My Shiny Hell). That’s when I take an hour to sit down and write about my latest happenings or thoughts. Whatever’s been floating around in the old spine-flower. I have noticed that I will re-write my thoughts in a constant loop in my head until I get them out of there, so having the unprofessional personal blog is really helpful. I’m sure it serves the same function as journaling, except that it’s online and everyone can see it and judge me, which is a teensy weensy bit horrifying. But that writer insecurity is exactly what I’m trying to stop worrying about, so too bad for me. Suck it up, Freebird. Get over it. Stop being such a wimp.
As a former psychology/English major, I would love to explore the psychology of my neuroses here, but I don’t even know where to start. After college, I spent twelve years of my young adulthood singing and playing guitar onstage in bands, yet I am terrible at public speaking, and pit-sweat thinking about people reading my written creative output. Why don’t I care at all what people think about my songs, but care too much what they think about my writing? I don’t get it. Perplexing, yes?
It’s really frustrating, but I am a determined, ridiculously stubborn, steel-willed redhead, and this self-aggression will not stand, man. The point to this COFFEE Project exercise is to face fears, and I will continue to face this one until I no longer care what anyone thinks of my writing, or at least until I believe in it, which is what I think it really comes down to. And I know I just ended that sentence with “to,” but “is all to which I think it really comes down” sounds odd, like I’m having a stroke mid-sentence or something.
I also created a storyboard for the book I’m writing.
(An aside: Can I just say how very much I loathe saying out loud that I’m writing a book? Everyone and their grandma claims to be writing a book. I feel like such a dirty cliché. Maybe it’s just the insecurity talking? I don’t know. I always promised myself I wouldn’t say it out loud until the book was finished and ready to be shopped, and yet here I am. Talking about writing a book mid-book. Ugh.)
My husband, the former Hollywood boy, recommended the storyboard because his screenwriter pals would do this. It’s a cork board onto which note cards can be tacked with notes about the book, such as what will occur, or character descriptions. I can move them around to help myself remember the direction the story is headed. I have the storyboard color-coded so that the bright pink cards are storyline ideas and the yellow cards are character notes, because organization is a huge turn-on for me. I’ve broken the cards up into chapters, which I’m trying to approach as little blogs or short stories about the same person’s life, so I don’t spook the nervous wild mustang of my confidence that shies away from the pretentiously spooky word book.
My goal is to slowly write the chapters, and pretend that I’m just writing blogs, as I have always done. Once I have 80-90,000 words worth of writings, I will lasso them all together and throw a saddle on the back of what I hope will be a somewhat linear novel. Yes, I’m tricking myself, so, shhh… don’t tell me what’s really going on here. Just feed me cubes of sugar, and talk to me in quiet, soothing tones.
I realized that I completely wussed out in my last blog, because I mentioned starting the minimal-editing blog, but didn’t give a link to it. That was me letting the inner chicken-sloth win, so I’m going to give it a big kick in the ass today and post the link to that one here now.
Please enjoy the first things that come into my mind and are crapped out via keyboard when I see certain pictures:
Literary Lampshade: http://literarylampshade.blogspot.com/
So far, I'm mildly disturbed to notice that almost all of my off-the-top-of-my-head posts involve conflict and unhappiness within relationships, be they fictional or drawn from my actual experiences. I'm shit-house psychoanalyzing this as, "Guess what, Tawni? You have trust issues! Duh." But I'm hoping it will stop soon, so I can finally pursue my lifelong dream of writing about fluffy kittens, unicorns and rainbows.
I will also repent for the sin of letting my insecurities win by additionally posting my personal blog address.
Please enjoy the enthralling and glamorous minutiae of my daily existence:
My Shiny Hell: http://myshinyhell.blogspot.com/
It scares me a lot to do this. I usually have a link to my personal blog sitting unobtrusively on my Facebook page, but never advertise my latest-written things out of fear. Fear of being an attention-starved “Look at me!” person. Which is really dumb, considering my 8000 Facebook photos. Obviously, somebody needs attention. ("Do you love me NOW, Daddy? NOW? How about NOW?!”)
I blame the people in the world of music that I called the “Come see my band!” people. These were folks that constantly hounded me to come see their shows, guilt tripping and whining when I missed one, and just generally being shameless and obnoxious about promoting themselves. I never did this because I always felt like people would come see my band if they wanted to come see my band. If you have to beg for a compliment, is it really a compliment?
So I am terrified to be a “Come see my band!” person in regards to my writing. But the silly thing about this is that when I see the blogs of my friends advertised to me in an email, blog comment forum, or Facebook Feed, I am nothing but excited to read their thoughts. I never think they are being pushy, and only admire them for having the balls to put it out there. So I don’t know why I’m overly concerned with humility. I don’t want to bother people with my creativity, but I don’t feel bothered when other people share theirs with me. Not at all. Quite the opposite. I eat it up. Delicious, delicious creativity.
I think my goal in the next few weeks will be to try to remember that people aren’t judging me as harshly as I imagine. And I need to learn to turn the same gentle eyes through which I see others on myself. I am so hard on this girl. Seriously. I’m very mean to myself. I deserve better. I wish I knew how to quit me.
In college, I spent a few semesters thinking I wanted to teach English to high school kids, and was required to do a student teaching block. I asked to be placed with my favorite English teacher from high school, who kindly accepted me.
One of the most shocking things she shared with me was the realization that I had never given myself enough credit for being good at writing. She showed me papers written by the kids we were teaching, and while there were a few that stood out, many were atrocious. She said that before she taught English, when she was a student, she thought she was average. It wasn’t until she became a teacher that she realized she was above average. I told her I thought I was average as well. She said, “You never realized how good you were because you couldn’t see the others. You assumed you were average, but you were one of the best students I’ve ever had.”
That always stayed with me. I think the lesson there is not to arrogantly decide that everyone else is not as good as you; the lesson is to remember that you can be good at things. You don’t always have to humbly assume that you are average in every way; instead assume you are above average in many ways. Give yourself credit. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s okay to acknowledge the things you do well.
I'm allowed to feel good about myself. I'm allowed. I'm enough.
Recognition that the universe is not smiting me for trying to be more confident.
More deep breaths.
I hope you have a wonderful week full of faced-down fears, my friends.