So this is what that feels like. This Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul.
Finished my first draft of my first complete novel on my birthday in 2018. Ground through my 974 page Franken-novel over the next 2 years. Almost wrapped it (in spite of knowing it had issues) in November, 2019 for my mentor who wanted to retire that month. Kept pushing for that ending until March 2020 where I encountered Lisa Cron’s Story Genius class on CreativeLive.com and I promptly crashed.
Shellacked (ie polished to a fine sheen) pile of peanut butter (ie. formlessly gets everywhere wile going nowhere). Concurrently, I was also pushing ahead on finding a new writing mentor. (Results: Too busy; too busy; can’t afford; can afford but a little on the frighteningly new age-y side…) Find someone and am treated to 2 pages of free editing wherein I hear all the ways I will have to cut up my baby to make it commercially viable and find myself actually asking if I really want to be a writer after all (something I have pursued for the lion’s share of my life).
That is what this feels like: A razing swath of large-scale self-doubt, decimating forests of thought, blanching the once lush fields of creativity. Highway cinderblock sized fear around whether or not I have the chops, will have the time, the strength, whether it is already too late.
And around my feet the Swamp of Sadness whispers its life-sucking notion that maybe I hate this book (series) I’m trying to write. Maybe I hate it a lot.
And I’m tired. Wrestling the plot logic together through this mammoth thing only to be told (or realize myself) that it is ALL WRONG! (*head-desk).
And yet it glimmers. And yet it whispers: don’t give up. You can fix this. This bit here…and this bit there…you could…you could…
Can I? Will it be what I hoped for when I am done? Or some unrecognizable commercial hash that leaves me empty?
Oh, I remember this feeling! The feeling in the first ever half marathon I ran (not realizing “trail” running is a whole other beast than “street.”) When joy and challenge and hope are all stripped away and there is nothing left but the limping, dogged determination to finish, not even win. Because alone, out there, there’s nobody to care if you quit. Only you. So limping jog to hobbling walk, you push on. And on. And on, while reality fades away and the only material thing left is the dust beneath your feet. Even the race marshals have packed up. You cross that invisible barrier of the finish line without any witnesses. Except you. And maybe your spouse. But you know you made it.
This is my writing marathon. My Trail Race. My mountain.
On the up side, apparently I have a literary voice.