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Thursday, August 4, 2011

On Writing, or In Which Ang Showcases Her Inner Emo Beast

I exist in a conundrum of sorts. Or, actually, maybe I don’t. Maybe what I experience is painfully (and pathetically, perhaps) normal. Maybe I am just like every other human being out there who adores to express their thoughts through the written word.

I have no issue advising you that I am awesome with regard to … well … a lot of stuff. I work in Finance and kick ass at it. I am a damn good mom and wife. I rarely study and still manage to pull some pretty stellar grades in my university coursework. I am a good friend and listener. And I can sing - in fact, I miss being in a band terribly, but I know I don’t have time for it at this juncture in life.

Please note that I’m not saying that I’m the best at any of those things. I just know that I have no reason to be negative.

Only, see, there’s this one really important, crazy huge area of my life that I have an exceptionally difficult time being positive about.

One guess, readers?

Wow, HOWEVER DID YOU KNOW?

Yep. Writing.

I am constantly comparing my words to others’. It’s bad enough that sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m doing it. One very consistent thing about me, as a writer, are semi-regular fits of, “Good Lord, why am I even bothering with this, because I am a hot mess and not even good at it.” Also, I regularly insult my skills as an imagery creator. And when I say regularly I mean it - it probably happens once every few days. On top of all of this, I am my own worst critic in every possible way.

I’ve really given this some thought, and I’ve realized that never once has anyone told me, “Wow, you know... you kind of suck.” But for a long time now, a lot of what I write comes hand-in-hand with a preposterous amount of self-flagellation and emotastic musings about how I wish I was better at *fill in the blank*. How what I need to do is hang up this little “writer” costume and move on with my life, no matter that nothing is as soothing to me as putting words ‘to paper.’ Nothing is more enthralling. Also, let’s just forget that I’m 25000 words deep into a manuscript that includes a protagonist & supporting characters as well as storyline that I adore with my whole heart.

Self-doubt is a terrible thing and I haz it. And for a while, I wondered how to get rid of it.

And then I looked in the mirror.

OK, not really. I’m not that cool, or that self-reliant with regard to things such as this.

What happened was this: I had a gchat conversation with one of my fellow WBP gals in which she ripped into me in the best way possible, telling my psyche it needs to shut up, telling me that I have to believe in myself and stop letting my fear of lack of talent (did you follow that?) impede me from doing the actual work. She told me she loves me, but really, I needed to get over this because every single, microscopic speck of this ridiculous emo is unfounded and irrational.

And then she told me that she understands wholly, because she’d been there. That writing is intensely personal, and that really, your words are YOU in letter form, and I have to get past this because my words - myself, really - are worth the attention they will garner if only I will let them.

Talk about a double-sided assault. Love through aggression, maybe? Heh.

But really?

I’m pretty sure it’s worked.

Am I saying that anything she advised was new? No. I knew it all, deep down. But the fact remains that it needed to be brought to my attention, and this conversation placed it right in front of me, at my feet, wrapped in bright, neon stringed lights and screaming like the Howler Ron gets from his mom in Chamber of Secrets.

Translation: I paid attention to it this time. And I let the seed of trusting in my abilities plant itself in my mind.

And now, I’m making an active effort to be more positive about my writing. About me, as an author. I’m making an effort to remember that superb writers and human beings like Neil Gaiman still deal with self-doubt; the difference is simply that they push through and trust their instinct. I’m making a real effort to remember this blog, by Keirsten White, because it’s the truth.

And I’m posting about it here so that all of you, as well as my fellow WBP Ladies can hold me accountable to all of the above.

Can any of you relate?

7 comments:

tonya said...

ngl, i kind of wish i had a transcript of that convo. i know the ass kicking em can give, and i will probably need a little of the same medicine on any given day.

love your breakthrough. and you! <3

Ang said...

HA.

Well, I still have the transcript, I suspect, in my gmail, so if you want to laugh a lot at me and nod a lot at Em... ;)

P.S. I've never actually thought I'd tacklehug anyone, ever. You just wait til we meet up one day, missy. <3

Tricia Clasen said...

Yeah, I might be able to relate just a little. :) Great post, Ang. It's nice to know we're grappling with similar issues. We should chat more.

kimber said...

um, how many times did you have to convince me i didn't suck before you actually got me to start writing jake? an insane amount of times, that's how many. ;) i know this is writing on a whole different level (obviously), but i just want you to know that you're damn inspiring yourself, and that even though i don't know specifically what em said, i am positive i agree with ALL of it, as i mentioned to you yesterday.

i'm also super proud of your amazing first solo post here. :) and also, i am excited that i can now stalk you in a new way, not just through texts/email/phone/facebook/twitter/your own personal blog. hahaha.

LOVE you sfm, big sister. *mwah*

Ang said...

Tricia - We should! :) I'll DM you my email on Twitter. And I'm so glad you could relate. Hopefully, the words can inspire others to push through the self-flail and do what needs to be done.

Kimber - hahaha. Whee for stalking via the varied venues of social media (try saying that 5x fast). Also, ILYSFM.

Jeanette said...

My current pet peeve in life is people who look at a piece of art or a book and say, "I could have done better than that!"

My answer is, "Well, did you?"

It's all about sucking it up and pushing through. You're fabulous, and I can't wait to see what you come up with.

Rebekah said...

*High Fives Jeanette* That drives me crazy.

Ang, I think you'd be crazy if there wasn't a little self-doubt around your writing. I experience the same issues. One day I ask myself why the eff I even bother and the next day a trusted beta reader tells me my most recent chapter made her cry. I figure I must be doing something right.

It will come and go as you go through the process, but now you have this post to look back to. :)