I might’ve written something like this before…
Anyway, I’ve hit this wall. This wall of just not caring about my craft and it totally sucks.
Writing used to be my passion. I mean, I used to have so many ideas and just such energy that I filled notebooks up with scrawling. Seriously, everywhere I went, I spent 90% of the time writing. Restaurant: wrote on the back of paper napkins. Church: Wrote all over the bulletin. School: well…notebooks. I even wrote fanfiction.
Now it’s like another job. I have contests I want to enter. Samples I’m preparing as samples for Agents. Articles that I write for culturemass.com. I’m trying to build a web presence, a publishing history, and maybe even make a little money along the way (because isn’t that part of why I got an MFA?).
So, in other words, now there’s all this ….pressure. And it’s all from me! I’m putting all this pressure on me and my craft. That it has to work out. That it has to be done. And just thinking about it all is exhausting. Then, I sit down to write and nothing comes out.
…Which freaks me out even more.
I know what it all comes from.
I’m not writing for me anymore. I’m writing for my career. It’s become work, and it’s less fun. Which is also scary and freaks me out. (I think this is why authors do writing retreats, but I can’t afford a writing retreat so what’s a girl to do? Push through it.)
This big question here is: HOW DO I MAKE IT FUN AGAIN?
The answer: *shrug* I don’t know.
My plan for now is to just power through it. That’s all I can do. It’ll be fun again one day. I’m not going to give up on that day.
Right. So, this blog is a little bit about my life, a little bit about my writing/writing in general, and mostly about what it’s like being a creative writing grad student out in the “real” world.
Recently, I’ve been posting about life and hardships and inspirations and whatnot. Now I’m coming full circle back to writing.
I know what you’re thinking, “Ahhh – she’s a writer. It’s November. This is her National Novel Writing Month token post.”
Well, you’re wrong. I’m working on my thesis. I don’t have any time to write another novel on top of this one.
This is a thesis writing post.
Today has been brought to you by the letter “P”
P is for PRESSURE
Who is under pressure here? *I raise my hand*
Why – you may ask.
Well, I’ll tell you. So I rewrote chapter one. And it’s pretty awesome as far as I’m concerned. My thesis advisor even said it was some of the cleanest writing she’s ever seen from me. So naturally, I’m all like “woooooooo”
Then I sit down to write chapter 2. And the freaking cursor just sits there blinking on the damn page and no words are appearing.
Here’s what’s going through my head….
“What if I can’t get back into that voice?”
“What if my characters feel forced?”
“What if chapter 2 is not nearly as good as chapter one?”
“What if I can’t finish my thesis?”
“What if this is all I have in me?”
“What if this chapter is epically shorter than that last one?”
“WHAT WAS I THINKING?”
Yeah. It’s awesome.
And really, who the fuck cares about most of that? Page count? I mean, come on…
Then I close the computer and read or watch TV and think, “Alright. All I need is a break. I just need some space.”
ANNNNND then the cycle starts all over again. However this time it’s accompanied by that David Bowie and Queen song, Under Pressure.
You know, this one…
Well, I know how to beat the cycle! I will open the document and pretend that I’m not writing for my thesis. My masters degree doesn’t ride on this. No one else will see it. EVER. Just me. So really, all I need to do is have fun and write because it’s fun. Get back to the basics as it were.
That’s what made chapter one so awesome. I was having FUN while writing it.
This is a new plan of attack. We’ll see how it pans out… updates will follow.
Sometimes I don’t know how I get things done.
I am over half way done with my frist draft of my paper (out of the nine pages of my outline I have three left to write) and one would think that all that progress would be invigorating. But it’s not.
Somehow the cursor looks heavier when I see it blinking there on my Word document; like each blink matches the slow beat of my heart. And I just can’t get the words down on the page. They form beautifully in my mind. I know how to weave my web of ideas and scholarly research together with examples from the texts – and it’s so brilliant in my mind. But then it all gets lost in translation. The words don’t come out as well or as easily from my fingers. Dragging the cursor across the page is like pulling a load of bricks across pavement in the middle of July; almost impossible for my little noodle arms.
BUT THEN! Then I change the front to Times New Roman and get the document doubled spaced, and I see so much more of what I’ve done. Yes, it still feels like a back-breaking load of work to get done, but it starts to feel just a bit lighter.
As a writer there is only one thing to do: Just keep swimming. Thank you Dory.
Sometimes I feel as if I have just shot myself in the foot.
I mean, I’ve loaded the gun. Lined it up with my foot. Pulled the trigger. And POW!
Foot has been shot.
That’s how this Harry Potter paper is making me feel. Like, I have all these ideas and plans and evidence from the texts and outside sources and a detailed outline all done. And then I sit down to write the paper and BAM! I run into a wall. I keep looking at my paper and get worried. All I see are quotes that I’ve strung together, my “original thought” sentences connecting the better phrased quotes together.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve tricked everybody into thinking I’m all brilliant and everything. Surprise! I’m not! Ugh.
But then I think: No. You can;t have fooled this many people. Not the acceptance board at my graduate school. Not my husband (who can read me like an open book). Not my parents. Not all these amazingly awesome teachers at my grad school. No. There is no way I fooled them all. So then the person I’m fooling has to be myself.
I am brilliant. I can write this damned paper. And it will be awesome.
So sitting here staring at the screen (not writing my paper), I think of some advice that author Ellen Kushner gave me this summer: Get the words on the page. Get a frist draft done. Let it be shit. Let it be a shitty first draft. Because that’s what it is: a first draft. You can’t fix nothing. If there are no words on the page – you can’t refine them. But I can refine shit. I can take a piece of coal and turn it into a diamond.
And then I think of Finding Nemo…
Just insert “writing” for “swimming” and you could have my theme song.
So, what am I going to do?
I’m going to keep swimming. And so should you if you hit that awesome wall of self doubt.
You may be asking yourself, “Hey, you’re (usually) pretty awesome about updating your blog on a regular basis…wtf?”
Or you might not. I’m not sure how many days its been since I last posted.
So this is one of those posts where I assure you that I am still alive. See —> I’m alive!
This week has been crazy. I am a creature of the night (but not in the Rocky Horror way… just saying) but for work, I have had to get up at 5:00 am. That’s right. I wake up before the sun. I go to bed after the sun. Stupid, lazy sun… So, this new “morning person” thing has really thrown a wrench into my life. I’m not complaining. In some ways it’s super nice to have gotten in 4 hours of work by 10:00 am. Huzzah! Granted, it does come at a cost. My creative hours have now become sleeping hours. I hope I will adjust.
What else has made this week crazy? The extra stress of classes. I had no idea that taking two online classes was going to be such a balancing act. I mean, I finish my work, get all excited that I’m done, and then realize… oh no I’m not. There is ALWAYS something to work on. And, I don’t want to go into it (because I’ve moved on) but since it’s a creative writing class, and so much depends on other students being responsible and getting their stuff posted on time, it’s horribly annoying when people just don’t meet the deadline. Yes, I’ve been told they have had technical problems. But, I would like to point out — we have everyone’s e-mails. So, if you can’t post something in time (for whatever reason) don’t wait and figure out how to post it three days later but 30 minutes before the critique is due. No, send out a damn e-mail and let your classmates know. Is that too much to ask? For graduate school, I think not.
OH! Good things about this week 1) Castle Season 4 started Monday night AND 2) Castle Season 3 was released on DVD Tuesday.
I love my escape.
Also, I have been reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and so far I’m a fan. Not just of the story but of the formatting of the novel. It’s like a grown-up picture book in a lot of ways. When I post a “formal” review I’ll include some snapshots with it.
So, there’s my update. Hopefully I’ll post some fun stuff soon. Keep reading!