On Writing

I was able to sneak in some work on my novel tonight, and it feels great. I thought I would be working late, miss putting my son to bed and getting home too exhausted to do anything but collapse, but instead I got out early enough to pack one box in preparation for our big move, have sweet cuddles and a story before my son fell asleep, and get to do some creative work along with a handful of chores before going to bed myself.

There is such a profound joy I find in writing, when I can give myself the time and the mental space to really tap into it. I sometimes have a difficult time cutting through all the other noise in my head to completely tap into that zone, but when I do, it’s one of the best feelings ever. Once we’re settled in our new house, and once the new baby is allowing us to sleep through the night again, I will make it a more regular practice, despite my crazy work hours. I have so many stories that I want to tell that have been put on hold for too long. They deserve to be written down and shared.

Choosing the Next Writing Project

So this weekend, I finally re-read my novel that I started years ago and had planned to jump into finishing for my first completed novel, adding a B-plot from the point of view of the other nation involved. And the bones of the six and half chapters I have written are very good. The world I’ve created is rich in detail, and when I incorporate the mythos that I introduced in The Cephalopod Maid, it will be even more full.

Then last night, I had a dream that sparked an amazing story idea, one that is exciting and timely with metaphors to our modern education system and the progression of our society, one that is maybe more marketable due to the protagonist being a teenager. And now I’m wondering if I should follow the new idea and see where it leads or stick with my original plan and file the new one away with the many, many other novel ideas I have. I don’t know. Somehow this one feels more timely, a more urgent story begging for my attention, but my first novel is looking askance at me and asking why I’m going to shove it aside once again.

It is a tough decision to make, but one I need to make soon because I have to write SOMETHING soon. There are words in me waiting to come out. After spending time polishing and editing the last draft of my graphic novel, it feels like it has been way too long.

Cue the Insecurity

First round of edits on my as-yet untitled novella are finished!  On the one hand, I feel very happy with my story, and I am excited to pass it on to my husband for the next round of edits.  And on the other hand, I am fighting the typical post-creative process of wanting to rip it up in a million pieces and never show anyone.  Opening myself up and being vulnerable is exactly what I need to do in order to share my work with the world, but I’ve got my inner critic working in full force now telling me that my work isn’t worth sharing.

Hence where my husband comes in next with the process.  We are so brutally honest with each other (and let me tell you, that can get uncomfortable) that if he thinks this story isn’t ready yet, he will tell me.  I’ve done the same for him in the past.  We try to be as kind and loving about it as possible, and we know that bottom line, the decision rests upon us as individual artists, but we push each other to be better.  And for that, I am eternally grateful to him.  But even so, even though he holds a piece of my soul in his heart and I trust my husband as I trust myself, my inner critic is trying to manipulate me into not going on to this next stage.  Yet I do so.  Humbly, cautiously, I am moving forward.

The creative person walks a fine line of being confident and being crippled by doubt.  I personally feel like I have stories to tell, songs to sing, and art to make.  I’ve got a lot of raw talent, but my perfectionist inclinations are what my inner critic preys upon, that my talent may never be honed to “expert” levels.  But I move forward anyway, because I refuse to be a prisoner to my own perfectionism.  Because no level of achievement will ever make me a “success” in my own eyes, so I may as well put my work out anyway.

Next step, going over the edits my husband suggests, finally deciding on a title, and tentatively working on a cover.  Then a couple of more edits, giving it off to a copy editor, and my little novella will be ready for the world.  I’m getting closer.