Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mess.

This is an issue I'd intended to write about if I start up a writing blog. But, it all came to a head today.

And I freaked the fuck out.

Not in any huge drama queen kind of way as is my usual wont. This was more of an implosion. There's been signs that it's been coming all week. My eating has been intuitive at nearly every meal, and my positive affirmations have been flowing, so physically I feel good. I've made a few half-hearted plans to go walking but at the end of the day I'd head off to bed without any exercise. I'm understanding of that because I have been tired with all the writing, thinking and psychologising I've been doing this last few weeks. Sometimes this acceptance stuff gets pretty draining.

Emotionally, I'm running scared.

Last night on the phone with my Mum, I boldly declared, “I'm so happy being a writer. All these wonderful things are happening, and I can say with complete belief that I'm an author. Since we've paid off the car, we can now put that money away as though I was 'earning' it. Thus I don't need to work part time and I can concentrate on my writing and anyone who thinks otherwise can bugger off.”

Well, something to that effect anyway.

And Mum's response blew me away. Again, paraphrasing here because I'm too tired to remember the exact wording. “Who's been making you think you need to work part time?” I literally stopped, when she said that, mouth agape. My brain cried out, “You have!” Those words never made it out of my mind, thankfully.

But then my lizard brain kicked in and taught me something very important. (repetition of a previous realisation I'm sure. Am kinda thickheaded on some things.) Mum's only been asking about it because every so often I make noises about going out to get a “real” job. You see, both of my parents worked full time when I was growing up. Both of my grandparents had jobs, sometimes two jobs, even into their retirement years. My grandpa delivered newspapers by pushing a shopping jeep...in his 70s!

What brought about my implosion was not only that conversation last night, but reading a book the day before. A book I've read and enjoyed many times over the years. A novel by Tanya Huff called The Quartered Sea. The main character in this book is so self-pitying you want to smack him into next week. He's so busy bemoaning what he lacks, he doesn't realise what he's got.

And I quote from page 26: (Emphasis is all mine.)
“Fine. He's not a boy. And sympathy is not the same as pity. Jazep, your name-father, only Sang earth, the most restricted of all the four quarters and I never felt pity for him.”
Because he never invited it. Benedikt does. Thanks to the misplaced enthusiasms of his parents, who were rather like ducks raising a songbird, he doesn't see what he has, only what he lacks. Not all of the time, of course, or I'd have kept him with me longer—but often enough that he's convinced the rest of you that it's a lack as well. He is a bard, after all, and bards can be very convincing.”


And that's ME! I've been so busy feeling guilty because I don't have a “real” job like what both my mother and grandmother had, that I'm feeling insecure. Insecure and unsure about my right to be doing what I'm doing. (And of course blaming them for nagging me about doing something I don't want nor have any intention of doing.) And by feeling insecure and unsure, I've been broadcasting that fear with every single conversation I've had with my family and friends. And family and friends can only go by what you're telling them. I've been SAYing a lot of stuff, but my actions have been SHOUTING my insecurity and desperate feelings of NOTRIGHT! NOTRIGHT! NOTWORTHY! So, they assume that I'm unhappy doing what I'm doing and take me at my word that I'm going to find a part time job when X period is up, just like I told them. So of course they're going to start asking about it when that time comes around.

And then I go back to being defensive again. But defensive is good, you see. Defensive is a crutch. I can wallow in self pity. Binge; because no body understands me and basically give the world a 'fuck you', and I don't have to write because nobody believes in me, and I'll fail anyway so what's the point and oh Look! ICECREAM!

The last few weeks I've been unable to do that.

- I'm co-editor on something I'm enjoying doing..
- I've received the same comment from two different people. “This story is your best short story yet.” And these people have been familiar with my work for many years now.
- Out of the blue, I received a compliment: a woman remembered my writing, from the times I'd asked her for a couple of critiques during the time we belonged to the same forum. She remembered my writing and my personality so well that she was recommending me to join her writing group.. She had no part in the selection committee but would put a good word in, if I wished to join their group. This is a group for those seriously committed to improving their writing and getting published.
- I've received an invitation to join a writing workshop. The clincher being that it's for authors that the person running the workshop believes are at a near-pro level. Meaning they're almost there, just need help refining rough spots and techniques.

All of this has me, as I mentioned earlier, running scared. So fucking scared. Not only do I have no excuses, but it's now crunch time. Put up or shut up. I'm now exactly where I've dreamed of being, in regards to the start of my career, and I'm running scared. I know this because the house has gone to shit. (Those signs I mentioned in the first paragraph?) I couldn't even cope with going to the laundromat today, like I'd promised Alaskaboy I'd do, so that we can do a bunch of stuff together this weekend. I have bags of non-perishable groceries sitting on the floor where I've dropped them, in walkways! Dishes strewn over the benches, tables, sinks and into the loungeroom. I'm in full-on slobby hermit mode. And of course I ate more than I wanted at each meal. Not a full on binge, but a sleight of hand thing to distract myself. I even binged on blog archives. Ooh new and shiny!

In short, I, and my surroundings, are a mess. And messy--let's get this straight, filthy--surrounds are a dead giveaway that I'm conflicted, badly. This is my dream. Has been my secret dream since I was 13 years old. I love words. I must write. I want so very fucking badly to be an Author that it's killing me that I'm here now, on the cusp. Because once I step through that door, it's up to me then. There are no more excuses, and I'm petrified. Do I REALLY want this? Am I truly prepared to put in the hard yards to get the kind of career I want? Am I prepared to do this as a job? Not a hobby or because it's fun, but as a job. Cooking wasn't what I thought it would be. I'm afraid that may happen with the writing.

But, most of all, I'm scared to try and be found lacking. All of my life I've given up rather than truly try and be found wanting. But this? I've been saying for five years that I'm an author, and now it's time to put my money where my mouth is. I'm living it, people. I'm doing this as a job. I owned up to my mother, and to MYSELF, that this is want I want to do for the rest of my life. And now that I've admitted to myself how very much I want it, I'm scared to reach my hand out and take what's on offer.

I'm so very busy worrying about what I lack, in skills, confidence etc, that I can't see what I do have. The fabulous wealth that I have in health, time, opportunities and love. And so, today it all fell in on top of me and absolutely nothing got done. I went seeking inspiration elsewhere. I found it on several other issues. But this one. It comes down to what I've been working on the last few weeks, but with a different application. Acceptance. Accepting that I am a writer born. But even Talent does not a Writer make. I'm still in my apprenticeship phase. I'm learning. And so help me I hope I keep learning for the rest of my life.

Learning, changing, creating, that means I'm alive. I honestly cannot imagine doing any other job than this. This is both my passion and my life. I live for words. Do I have what it takes to make words my living? Do I have what it takes to get more rejection slips? To spend hours alone at the keyboard. Writing, rewriting and revising until I get it right.

I think I may have enough courage to find out.
. . .I think.

. . .I hope.

1 Nibbles:

Marshmallow said...

We must be living in some insane parallel universe, since I had the same realisation today - only it involved a bit of shouting and sobbing and whatnot.

I found out that my family say negative things to each other 'because they care'. When we only say negative things as a way of 'caring', we don't even know what the positives are. I wake up in the morning and hate myself because I've been taught to 'care' by only seeing the negatives.

I'm glad that you are recognising what you do have. Life's too short to waste it fretting about what we don't have.