Things have been really quiet around here lately. I actually, for once, have a whole list of things I want to blog about (hopefully it’ll keep things semi-regular over the next few months), but I wanted to talk about why I’ve blogged twice since November.
I’ve never really been a regular blogger, unless you count my days on livejournal in middle school (I don’t). I also don’t feel like it’s necessary for bloggers to apologize for not sticking to a posting schedule. I’m not going to apologize. I’ve just been struggling through some major writer’s block over the last few months, and I want – no, I need – to talk about it.
November ended on a high note. I had a very nearly completed manuscript that ignored for the first three weeks of December before printing it out and attacking it with an orange pen.
That was my first mistake.
I should have let it sit longer. Hell, I should have actually written the ending I wanted, not the half-assed four paragraphs I wrote to get to 50k. Every time I read back over it, I felt like I was standing on the edge of something that was very large, very dark, and growing by the second.
Eventually, I fell in.
Right around this time – in the beginning of January – I started having these terrible headaches. In the beginning, it was maybe twice a week. Then three times. Eventually, I spent two weeks with a constant migraine that affected everything. Eric was a saint, really, for putting up with me. I’d come home from work and head straight to bed.
I didn’t write a single word. Every time I thought about opening Scrivener and getting back to work, I’d burst into tears. How did I even think I was capable of this? Why did I think I could tell this story the way it deserved to be told?
I’d blame it on the headache.
Finally Eric convinced me that I needed to go to the doctor. I did. After some tests and a restricted diet to see if foods were triggering my migraines, we discovered the culprit was a mixture of two things – I had incredibly low levels of iron, and I found out that I’m lactose intolerant. I started taking extra vitamins and cut dairy out of my diet, and the headaches disappeared. I haven’t had a headache in nearly three weeks.
I still didn’t write more than a few words at a time. I still had mini-panic attacks when I even thought about opening up Scrivener. I hid my MS under a stack of wedding magazines on the bookshelf. I’d mumble “Fine,” and change the subject whenever anyone asked me how the book was doing. I avoided my blog. I avoided twitter. I started comparing my manuscript to every book I was reading. I wasn’t funny enough, or clever enough, of poetic enough. No one, I convinced myself, would ever find my manuscript – and by extension, me – worthy. I was wasting my time, deluding myself into thinking that I could do this.
I don’t know when exactly I started to notice what was going on, but about two or three weeks ago, it hit me that I was being so incredibly stupid.
Maybe … maybe I do suck, but this is my story to tell. No one else can tell it the way that I will. I won’t know how good it is until it’s finished and polished. I can’t compare myself to anyone else.
What I know is this: I adore this story. I adore these characters. They’re mine.
I just have to be me. I just have to trust myself.
So I took a deep breath, found my manuscript, and opened up a new project in Scrivener. I put everything I had from NaNoWriMo and even before into a folder labeled “draft zero” and I started outlining. I started a pinboard with images that reminded me of the story. I plotted every scene. I made character profiles. I made one of those story arcs that we learned about in tenth grade English and I filled in everything. Everything was laid out in front of me. And then something amazing happened.
I saw where I went wrong. And suddenly, I knew how to fix it.
Yesterday, I rewrote my opening. Today, I wrote my last scene. There’s a lot of hard work yet to be done, but I’m not too worried. This time I have an outline to guide me when the going gets tough. It has good bones.
I silenced myself this winter, but over the past few weeks, I’ve regained some confidence. I’ve stopped worrying about what comes next.
I’m a writer. I have a voice. And I’m going to tell my stories the best way I know how.
That’s enough for me, for now.