As many of you know I’ve been telling stories in some capacity for over thirty years now, which at times feels super overwhelming because some part of me thinks maybe I should have more to show for my efforts. Then I think about George R.R. Martin, and I feel okay about my accomplishments. Which isn’t to say I’m badmouthing GRRM, or I think I’m in any way, shape, or form comparable to him, because I’m not. I just understand the whole, “Sometimes it takes me years to finish my projects,” aspect of his plight. Because the same thing happens to me sometimes, and it always has.
For as long as I can remember I have fallen into these vast voids where I have a million really great ideas, novels more or less completely written inside my head, but when I sit down to work on them nothing comes out. And if things do come out, they aren’t the way I want them, and I can’t figure out where I’m going wrong, or how I can fix them, so I get frustrated and ragey and want to throw my keyboard at a wall while screaming very dramatically to the heavens. I like being overly dramatic most of the time because in retrospect it’s very silly, but when it comes to writing I hate that it makes me feel that way.
I just want to write. It’s more or less the only thing in the world I have ever wanted to do, so when I get stuck in that capacity it’s very frustrating. The nasty little voices (who pretty much sound like Smeagol and Deagol fighting over the One Ring,) inside my head tell me I’m obviously done telling stories, and I should just give it up already because it’s not going to happen anymore. “You had a mediocre run, you gave it your all. Here’s a towel and some gatorade. Don’t bother taking a seat on the bench because you’re not getting back into the game…” Sounds like a real jerk, right? The worst part is I know that voice is my own insecurity trying to make sure I don’t rise above it, and the more it chatters, the heavier the weight of it starts to feel.
I lose sleep over it. I lay in bed at night thinking about all the ways I’m letting myself down, my family, my readers, my characters… Gods, my sweet characters who just want adventure and action and resolution… They just want to live their imaginary lives, and I’m not letting them. What kind of wretched monster am I?
For the most part, I don’t believe the voice, (well… not entirely…) but it still gets to me. It digs in like a splinter, itching and throbbing, and the more I pick at it and try to pull things out, the harder and harder it becomes for me to focus and actualize the things I want to work on. It’s a catch-22 because I know writing and finishing one of the many projects I have in the sidelines trying to find their voice again will inspire and make me feel better, but digging into the splinter tends to make it burrow deeper, and therefore seemingly more impossible to pluck out.
I am going through one of those times in my life right now. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been so quiet. I’m over here busy wrestling with myself, trying to make something (ANYTHING) stick long enough to become a reality I can work with. So very frustrating, and I imagine it’s not very fun at all for the people who are waiting for books from me, but in the end I have to accept that it’s all part of my process. It’s how it’s always been, and I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s happening again. I know it will work itself out of my system, that one day soon I am going to wake up and know exactly how things are supposed to be written. I’ll sit down at my computer and being furiously typing as the sun beams through the darkness, and everything will feel brilliant and glorious and amazing all over again.
Until then, I have to be patient with myself. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s the only thing I can do. I’ll keep writing down all these ideas that keep flooding through me in my fancy little notebook, and the really powerful ones will keep nagging at me until they get written, and that’s okay because that’s how this works… for me, anyway.
We all have our processes. Our moments (sometimes months,) of madness we allow to define us, but that’s the thing. That madness doesn’t define me, it’s simply a temporary lapse into the void that despite the frustration and doubt it causes is all part of a process I’ve been enduring for at least three decades.