Monday, March 19, 2012

The Things That Hold You Back

Again, it's been a while since I posted.  Probably because it's been a while since I did any writing.

Two reasons for that.  The first is a nasty and persistant case of the blues.  It's nearing the 12 month anniversary of my sister's passing and there have been a lot of 'last memories' surfacing.  The 13th of this month was the 12 month anniversary of the last time I saw her before she went into hospital.  It was a beautiful day spent with both my sisters and we had a lovely time together and the memory of that day is so crystal clear in my mind which is a great comfort.

The other, less easily defined reason, is that I have been having a mild crisis of confidence.  Okay less than mild.  I read a lot of blogs.  Some of published authors. Some of soon-to-be published authors.  And some of authors wanting to be published.  But lately I have found myself holding back from commenting on their blogs, and posting on my own, because I have the ridiculous notion that someone, somewhere is going to call my bluff.  Someone is going to point at me, everyone will turn to stare and they will yell into the settling silence: "This woman is a fake!  She has no talent and she will never ever be a writer!"

As a result my writing has suffered.  I was second-, third-, and fourth-guessing each and every single word I was writing and it was the most unproductive process I have ever undertaken.  I seriously thought about giving up but as per usual I kept dreaming up these amazing (well to me anyway) plots and characters and I wrote them down in my "Ideas" folder where they were languishing away, drumming their fingers on my conciousness. 

So then I decided to read through some older posts of other writers and found some really helpful advice (thank you Caitlin Crews, Jackie Ashenden, Maisey Yates and Nicola Marsh).  The plan now is to just write.  Not hamstringing myself by trying to write the perfect first draft or caring about what anyone else would think about it.  Just writing.

Then I can go back and see what can be salvaged.  Learning to rewrite is a skill that I am going to give myself the opportunity to add to my repertoire.

If anyone is still reading this blog (and I can't blame you if you're not) any words of wisdom are most welcome.


Jackie Ashenden said...

Oh, Elissa, big hugs to you m'dear. I know those anniversaries all too well (it's been nearly ten years since I lost my brother). It's very hard. Time doesn't really heal, all it does is help you cope.
Anyway, I'm so glad something on my silly blog helped! Second guessing is something I think everyone does (hell, I'm doing it right now!) and it truly is a vile process. But the best thing I think I ever did was write a story just for me. Because I just loved writing it. It wasn't intended to go anywhere, it wasn't for any line, it was just for me. And it was truly one of the most wonderful processes. There is a lot of freedom in thinking that no one need see what you've written so you can be as bad/good as you like!
So just go for it! Write for yourself and write because you love it. Not for any other reason. I bet what you'll come out with will be something wonderful. :-)

Elissa Graham said...

Thanks Jackie. I think I read that post of yours maybe a hundred times and I kept thinking "that's just what I should do" but I couldn't get myself motivated. Now I've started and it's really liberating - most of the stuff is padding but every time that little voice in the back of my head starts to chime in with advice, I use some very unladylike language to shut it up and keeping bashing away on the keyboard! I'm not so sure it will be wonderful but at least it's a start.

Leah Ashton said...

Oh Elissa, what a tough time for you. I'm so sorry about your sister.

With your writing and the way you are fourth+ guessing yourself - that is *normal*. I'd say the vast majority of authors feel the same way, and I know I'm currently struggling with this.

I think the key is to get the words down, and yes - as you said, learn to re-write. I think I'm a bit of a slow learner, as my two published books were massively re-written, and yet I still somehow expect my current book to materialise on the page gold-plated. This is just not my process!

Not sure if "I hear you!" can be considered words of wisdom, but at least know you are far, far from alone :)

Elissa Graham said...

It's lovely, Leah, to hear that even pubbed authors have the whole "blahhh" thing going as well. Somehow knowing that others are struggling makes me feel a little more normal.

"I hear you" may not be words of wisdom but they sure are appreciated!