Writer implosion

So I've been "acting like a writer" and it's been quite a week.  I've been gloomy.  Crazy.  Inspired.  Doubtful. A wee bit manic.

I was wrapping up the second draft of my novel when I realized I needed to radically revise.  We're talking butcher knives and chainsaws and axes needed. A main character changed.  Plot points dissolved. Entire points of views cut. That unleashed the demons of doubt to do their worst. This process scares the crap out of me.  I have an instinct, an intuition as I carve away, but I don't know exactly what I'm doing.

I long to be a writer, to create stories and connect with people bring them delight.  But on weeks like this I wonder if I have it in me.  Imagination, yes.  Brilliant writer? That's where the doubts set in.  As much as I believe you can learn more and work hard, I sometimes wonder if  there is a certain je ne sais quoi that some writers have, and you either have it or you don't.  It's something in their brains tuned into the sound of words, something magical - maybe it's that thing you call voice.  And I find myself wondering if I have "it".

Whenever I am working on a project, it seems I always reach this point where I suddenly feel NO GOOD or worse, blind, as if I can't even begin to see the true dimensions of my own work. And then it gets worse.  Not only do I beat myself up about that, but my insecurities grow, taking over another part of me - CONFIDENCE.  I worry that even if I was the most wonderful writer in the world, I lack confidence.  I stunble trying to say what my story is about, blushing to admit I've actually written a madly romantic sci-fi adventure tale.

I feel tongue-tied explaining myself and what I love, the essence of me - or what I might cynically call my brand. And it's this being who I am, owning up to who I am which is hard for me at times and part of what I try to bust through on this blog.

How do I explain that I am a Jane Austen loving bookworm who also enjoys a good dose of kick-ass Battlestar Galactica too?  How do I explain that I am as girly as they come, a vintage gal whose greatest fantasy is spending a day antiquing with Rachel Ashwell and yet I find myself writing wild tales of time travelers and space princesses who run away from home to avenge their father's death?

I write the visions that haunt my mind, the tales that keep me company on dark nights - and it turns out that recently the genre it most closely fits is sci-fi, even if that's not the genre I intended to invade. As much as I love sci-fi.... Hello! X-Files, Fringe, BSG, Lost, Alias and Caprica, some of my favorite shows ever - I don't feel like I fit into the scifi geek community.

I don't want to leave a strange impression because I've written a sci-fi novel I'm trying to get published and then you visit my blog and I'm talking about nail polish and chick flicks and crochet and self-help.  But it's me - it's all me, all at once. So I'm struggling with "defining" myself and who I am and what I love.  When the truth is I already know, I'm just afraid to put it out there.

"Acting like a writer" is more than telling stories - it's one big head game - fighting myself to get through the process. I'd say this is probably true for anyone following a dream, whether it's starting a business or being an artist.  I share all this not to reveal the total madwoman that I am, but to help any fellow dreamers out there going through the same thing.

And now I say, "Demons, adieu!  I have work to do!" and get back to revising...


  1. This is where I out myself as not a fiction writer at all, but a friend of many GREAT fiction writers. Your story sounds like many I have heard. Don't you worry! Keep that head down and know that you are not alone. You can do it. Also - the only thing I love more than a good chick flick, is a sweet sci-fi BSG type gig. I CAN'T wait to read your published book.

    You can do it. - kelly

  2. Hi Valerie!

    We don't know each other..but I have been following your blog for a little over a week now. And, I must say I am a huge fan of your honesty and self-reflecting nature. I understand the torment that can haunt an artist's psyche.
    Just keep looking forward while trusting your work in the present. Because the present can give us our greatest gift, breath. It may seem difficult to hear someone tell you to "just breathe." That phrase has, at many times, ticked me off to no end.
    I've spent months swimming around in my head only to wake up one day and realize I have wasted a TON of time. When breath and action work together in our spirits and bodies, the artistic result surprises us because we see we endured. We stayed true to our promise to stay in the moment and drive.

    You drive it into the ditch if you must! At least you have control.

  3. Thanks Kelly! For reminding me that I'm not alone! Haha.

    Clementine, it's lovely to meet you. Thank you for the excellent advice to keep breathing. It pairs well with my philosophy to keep going. I have a quote up on my bulletin board that says the only person that can take you out of the game is you. And my main goal is just to stay in the game, even when I'm feeling uncertain.

  4. That's a great quote! Nice to meet you as well! I love quotes.

    And, no, my name is not really Clementine. I just love the name and the song Clementine by Washington.

    My real name is Jessica. :)

  5. Don't give up....I know it's often hard to be objective about your own project but it's amazing sometimes if you have a little break from it and then go back to it you can look at it with a fresh perspective. ..and it's usually much better than you remember.....just have confidence in your own judgement.....I'm dying for a sneak preview ....sounds fascinating........I hope you publish a little exerpt on Bohemian Season ....

    By the way Vmichelle I've tagged you to expose your five daily essentials..I'd love you to play along...that's if you have time and inclination to do so......

  6. I've been meaning to comment on this since you wrote. This is a great post, but perhaps the most thrilling part is the glimpse into exactly what it is you've been creating and slaving over the past year. The actual subject of your novel. Sounds like a novel that might bridge the huge reading gap between me and my husband, so I can't wait to read it!