I’m having a minor (okay, major) writing “what if.” I can tell that I am having this moment due to several of my usual anxiety symptoms:
- I’m staying up late, feeling like I should be working on something…anything.
- I’m browsing my favorite shopping sites, feeling the need to buy, buy, buy.
- I’m planning for my writing career without actually taking any physical steps to register for a conference, apply for some freelancing jobs, and the like.
The “what if” moment is as follows:What if my novel sucks?This statement, of course, can be broken down into several mini-“what ifs”:
- What if my plot is stupid and unrealistic?
- What if my main character is unlikeable?
- What if my writing style isn’t strong enough to uphold the concept of my book?
- What if I can’t find an agent?
- What if I find an agent who has me rewrite my story to the point where the story and its characters lose all meaning for me?
- What if the agent can’t sell the book?
- What if nobody reads the book?
- What if I’ve been kidding myself for the last twenty years, and I have absolutely no talent as a writer?
I feel sick.
For the last three weeks, I have sat in the lobby of my job every day after work and typed on my netbook, trying to fulfill my weekly novel quota of 5,000 words. I have never bore down and allowed myself that much time to my writing, and on that side, I feel good. I feel great, in fact. Even my boss checks in on me occasionally as he’s leaving work to ensure that I’m staying on the straight and narrow. Just my friends asking me how the book’s going and letting me have that time to work uncontested is more support than I have ever had. I could never express my appreciation for that encouragement.
But there’s that voice. There’s always that voice.What if I’m kidding myself?
I know this moment will pass, because I know that I can’t stop. I can’t keep putting this book off. I can’t keep putting it on the back burner, because doing so is ignoring one of my biggest, most personal aspirations.
I realize that I’m not as knowledgeable or adaptable or resourceful or lucky as the many freelance writers that I read about on their blogs—but I want to be. I have to be. I have fiddled too long through my life, unsatisfied with my decisions in nearly every field of my existence due to my insecurities at—ironically—being happy. To quote an old wrestling theme song, it’s my time.
I like the drive that I’ve found within myself these last few weeks. I don’t want it to be a fad. I don’t want it to go away. If determination were a lover, I would release all pretenses and drop my pride, clutching him and clinging to him and begging that he stay, stay with me forever and take me with him on this crazy writing journey, wherever that trip may take us.
Note to self: learn how to turn an emotional state of mind into a sexy, physical male specimen.