Rescuing Myself

7 Nov

photo (26)I’m really good at being my own worst enemy. Having just delved into this whole writing thing a little over two years ago, I’ve realized that although I’m relatively new at honing my craft, I do have something to share with others through my words. But I’ve also found that I’m much too eager to rip off all my clothes and dive into that dark pool of you suck way more often than is good for my literary health.

Case in point: I belong to a writers group which meets twice a month where we share our work in a positive and accepting environment. Recently, the group has gone through some changes (several writers have left and quite a few new writers have joined) and at our last meeting, I was  impressed as well as a bit intimidated by the high quality of writing that was shared. Some of these folks are real writers—novelists, poets, essayists, even professional editors—who have been at this writing thing for years. Not only do they write well, but they read their work with drama and flair. Also, a number of them are originally from the literary Mecca of New York—another reason for this Santa Barbara native to feel like a West Coast country bumpkin.

When it was my turn to read, I shared a chapter of my novel which, in my opinion fell a bit flat. Perhaps because the new members hadn’t heard the previous chapters, they were a little lost as to what the story is about or maybe they just didn’t like it. Whatever the reason, I didn’t get the Woot-Woot response I was hoping for and that fertile seed of doubt about my ability as a writer began to sprout. By the next morning it had grown into a thorny bush of angst and uncertainty.

Now, I understand that self-doubt is a zealous assassin of motivation and inspiration, and I’m the first one to encourage others to keep at it no matter what. My mantras have always been: Find the lesson and Look for the positive, but this time, I couldn’t seem to get my head above that murky water.

Usually, the morning after my writers group, I’m inspired and excited to write more. I had carved out three hours in my schedule that morning to write, but I just couldn’t get myself to sit down at the computer. Instead, I busied myself with mundane tasks around the house that I’d been putting off because I’d been so busy devoting myself to daily writing. As I folded laundry and scrubbed the bathroom, the words you suck burned through my thoughts like the caustic scent of bleach. I was ready to throw in the towel and soon decided that maybe it was a good time to take a break from writing my novel.

Then after two days, something interesting happened. I began to itch to get back to writing. I missed interacting with my characters and finding out what they were going to do. I realized that the process of daily writing was really something I look forward to—it’s something I love doing for myself and my perception of what others thought of my writing was just that—my perception. I live my life, I experience my reality—so what really matters is what I think.

I said to myself, Boy, Lady—you’ve really got a lot of nerve—acting so critical and damning toward yourself—you  would never dream of treating a fellow writer in this way—enough already!

So for today, I’m rescuing myself from that murky pool of despair and I’m choosing to believe that someday, someone out there will enjoy reading what I have to write. And if not, well I’m going to just go ahead and enjoy writing it anyway.

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24 Responses to “Rescuing Myself”

  1. Kelly Garriott Waite (@kgwaite) November 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    I feel like a fraud every time I sit down to write. Nice post!

    • injaynesworld November 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      You, too?! I thought it was just me.

      • Allegro non tanto November 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

        It’s all of us, I’m afraid! I’m sure even the big published writers suffer as we do!

    • Allegro non tanto November 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

      You’re definitely not a fraud.

      • Becky Green Aaronson November 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

        Can I join the party? Seriously. Doubt hits me over the head every time I plunk away at my keyboard.

        I’ve said this many times before, but you have an exquisite gift for storytelling, Jessica. If your novel is even half the quality of your blog posts, you will have something special on your hands. Just keep on going!!! I love that you rescued yourself so you can enjoy the process again. That’s when the magic happens.

  2. injaynesworld November 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    First of all, Jessica, I admire the hell out of you for joining a writers group where you read your stuff aloud. I would never have the courage to do that. Never!! You can’t give other people power over your joy. Would you speak to your children in that kind of critical voice? Of course not. Your creative self is that sensitive child part of you that just wants to dance. Let it. There will be plenty of people who will want to knock “your kid” around in life. It’s your job to protect and honor her. Quite frankly, I’m not really sure how valuable such writing groups really are. Remember, everyone else is just as neurotic and fearful as you are. We’re writers. It’s just how we roll. Big hugs!

    • Allegro non tanto November 7, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

      Yes, I need to treat my sensitive child with more care. You’re the best, Jayne–thanks for your wonderful words.

  3. Julie Barnes November 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I can’t wait to read your novel! I want to cater your book signing party, okay?

    Did I say thank you for lunch the other day? Thank you!

    Love,

    Julie

    Julie Barnes Village Properties Realtors License #1107109 4050 Calle Real Santa Barbara, CA 93110 805/895-9498 juliebarnesrealestate@cox.net

    • Allegro non tanto November 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      You’re hired, Julie. Lets serve lots of wine and desserts!

  4. Eleanor Winters November 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Good on you, Jess: You slapped your own hand. AND you like writing. Terrific!

    • Allegro non tanto November 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

      Thanks for bucking me up yesterday, Mama. I don’t know what I’d do without you telling me that I’m all right.

  5. Rossandra White November 7, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    It only took you two years to get to this point to say, so what, I have to do this? Well, babe, it only took me 18 years. Not only do you have something to say, you say it with such heart and style and depth that you’ve got this reader by the nose.

  6. debatterman November 8, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    I don’t think there’s any escaping self-criticism/self-doubt. It goes with the turf. When I don’t get quite the response I hoped for, I question if I didn’t do quite what I set out to with a story, my novel, etc. Then I remind myself of the subjective nature of it all. And when you miss interacting with your characters, you know you’re onto something.

    • Allegro non tanto November 8, 2013 at 10:00 am #

      You’re right–it’s totally subjective. The reality is that I can’t get into other people’s minds, so my perception of what they think may not even be real…but you’re right–if i love my characters so much then maybe others will, too.

  7. Melanie Jacobson November 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    You are no West Coast country bumpkin! I’m glad you’re keeping’ on because you what you have to say is meaningful and illuminating (and sometimes very funny) to many.

  8. Brenda Moguez (@BrendaMoguez) November 10, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    That is just part of the process. I read in Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ book he shivers at the start of each book. It’s a writer thing.

    I had a reader tell me recently “I read your two short stories…..” long silence “…they were too formal…” I had never, as in never, heard this comment in relation to any of my writing. I paused, then thanked her for reading them and trotted off to my desk. In my mind, I thought the Editors who bought the two stories hadn’t said that…. I swirled around in that dark place for a good hour before I reminded myself for every writer there is a reader, and for every reader there is a writer. It was a close call, but I decided to move on and continue doing what I do. As you should.

    • Allegro non tanto November 10, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      Thank you for your encouraging words. The hard truth is that I can’t please everyone, so I may as well please myself.

  9. Britton swingler November 10, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    Once again you have written from the heart and touched mine. I find your ability to rise above each and every speed-bump inspiring.

    Whenever I start the comparison game, I lose. It is the urge to write, the unrelenting tap-tap-tapping in my brain, whether I am able to take action on it or not, that reminds me that I am a writer simply because I am, not because I choose to be. I believe there are important reasons that we are writers, even if we don’t fully understand them; even if they regularly get buried beneath our doubts.

    You have a wonderful gift that deserves and presses for its voice. Let it be beautiful to you. I have no doubt that it will also be beautiful to others.

  10. Elisabeth Kinsey November 11, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    This is exactly the process. It never changes regardless of two years or twenty-two years. We always get scared and lose nerve, but then we rally. Congratulations for making it through and for writing a great post that illustrates the process.

  11. Mary Darragh November 22, 2013 at 6:09 am #

    I am just a reader….and I so enjoy your blogs.

    • Allegro non tanto November 22, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      There’s no such thing as “just a reader”! Without you to read my stuff, where would I be? So thank you, Mary for letting me know that my words touch you in some small way. I really appreciate it.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write. | Random Scope - November 9, 2013

    […] Rescuing Myself […]

  2. Writing the Story of Your Life | Time for Love - November 10, 2013

    […] Rescuing Myself (allegronontanto.wordpress.com) […]

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