Slightly insane, but worth it.

Beth Wodzinski Hi, I'm Beth. I create: words and art. I do yoga. I cook tasty food. I publish Shimmer magazine. Now 37% more purple.

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I Am Not A Precious Snowflake

Published November 16, 2012 - 5 Comments

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.


Laura Christensen - November 16, 2012 Reply

So, on Wednesday I wrote in my NaNo writing log how horrible my project was, how much it sucked and how stale and dead it was.

…Then Thursday, having completely forgotten what I jotted down the night previous, I did my morning words, I took a break reading the rest of the day, then later that night I reread what I’d written with fresh eyes and realized…it wasn’t half bad.

Yeaaaah cue me embarrassed with myself.

You can do this, and just remember–it’s not as bad as it seems. <3

(Hehe, this is what writing buddies are for, to remind each other of what being too close to the page is.)

jnfr - November 16, 2012 Reply

You’ll always be a precious snowflake to me.

J'aime - November 18, 2012 Reply

I love this post. I have a feeling this is where a lot of wanna-be writers stop, and say “I tried, but I’m no good” or else “I tried but I am a Blocked Writer, Woe is Me.”
It’s inspiring to hear you say that you aren’t going to stop. I guess you are a writer, not a wanna-be!

Kaari - November 23, 2012 Reply

I am right there with you on thinking I’m writing a steaming pile of poo, but I keep going. I have every intention of finishing this story, dammit. Even if I stalled out for four days, I am not giving up.

I left my characters about to get their kit off and have some sweet loving, and I think it’s about time to make it happen. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

Beth - November 23, 2012 Reply

Rock on, Kaari.

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