Oh, this novel. It’s not going well. I’m behind on wordcount, the plot is virtually non-existent, the characters are insipid and leaden, and my well-researched historical detail consists mostly of characters occasionally reminding each other that it’s 1935. I’ve remembered three or four other novels that would be a lot more fun to write, and am completely convinced this novel is hopeless.
Apparently this is normal. Apparently just about everyone goes through this. Apparently I’m not at all special in my awfulness.
I do not want to believe this. I am a special snowflake, damn it! Even if what I am special for is being the worst writer ever. The worst, I tell you.
There’s a peculiar attraction to being the worst. Yep, that’s the biggest black widow I’ve ever seen, the exterminator told us a few years ago. Yep, that’s an especially huge infestation of yellowjackets in your walls. Yep, your back is astonishingly screwed up, the physical therapist tells a friend. Yep, your balance is 75% damaged on one side and that’s really bad, says specialist at the ear and balance clinic.
It’s almost comforting to have someone agree that your fear and pain are real. External validation FTW! It’s not just you lacking courage and conviction; there’s really something wrong.
And when the expert agrees that there’s a problem, he or she can get to work on fixing it.
But that doesn’t work with writing.
Because I’m not a precious snowflake, delicate and unique. There’s nothing special about this particular kind of suffering. Everyone goes through it. (And the people who say they don’t are great big liars and I hate them.)
Because there are no experts to fix it for me: I have to do the work myself.
Because the solution is the same, regardless of how awful the novel is: sit down and write some more words. When it’s done, revise the suck out of it.
So all I’m doing with this catastrophizing about how terrible I am is wasting time and freaking myself out.
It hurts to let go of the story of my precious specialness and get down to work. But I bet it’ll hurt a lot less in the long run than just giving up.