Just thought I should let y’all know that over at brain pickings, Maria has put together a compilation of posts featuring writing advice.
I need to hear a lot of these today, as I’m getting back to work on a piece I had given up on a while back. I’m still (verrrrrrrrry slowly) working through The Artist’s Way, and the last chapter talked about the self-sabotage many recovering artists face. The road to recovery, Julia reminds us, is frightening. It means we can no longer hold on to the excuses we used to keep us from facing the vulnerability inherent in making art. Once we get close to the ledge, it gets windy and cold. That’s why so many artists take one or two steps towards creating something great and then shelve the project for no real reason.
Months ago, I gave an essay I’m writing about a situation at my alma mater to my writing mentor. She took the time to give it a helpful critique and asked me to send it to her again. I never did. I made some of the changes, got busy, started making excuses about how disappointed she’d be in how late I was getting back to her, and then just sort of pushed it out of my mind. It haunted me, that I had let her efforts and mine go to waste. She believed in me; why couldn’t I? Still, I couldn’t bring myself to work again.
But now that I realize this is an actual thing for other writers, a silly, avoidable avoidance tactic, I don’t want to let it go. I want to see this project through: even if it’s hard, and even if at the end I still suspect that it sucks, and even if I don’t end up sending it around.
But it IS fricking scary. I have been so ashamed of myself for pushing this project away for so long that I’m having trouble even opening the file to look at it. Just thinking about loading Microsoft Word, my chest tightens and my hands feel shaky. What’s with this anxiety? It’s a dumb essay. It is utterly meaningless in the world of things, in the world of my daily life. I have written so many school papers that my fingers should be cracked and bloody. And yet. The idea of writing a VOLUNTARY and (gulp) CREATIVE project to completion is powerful and nerve-wracking because it signifies a step towards commitment to being a writer.
So here’s to being brave, friends.
P.S. Unrelatedly, M and T are insisting I go as a manta ray for Halloween, and I was refusing on the grounds of impossibility, but then I saw this:
Bllaaargghhhdljbfasdjhbofsadlbhdalvsbsda that’s an amazing costume and I would be way happier than that kid if i had a mom to make that for me.