The Beginning Is Now

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I spent most of the day trying to figure out what I want to talk about next. I was supposed to get a couple of new books yesterday at church, but I didn’t get a chance to get them because my kids were having a meltdown. So, today, I kept coming back to my writing.

Specifically, my fiction. I have three novels that I started but couldn’t finish for various reasons. I think the main reason is self-doubt. I am annihilating that one even as I type this. Through this blog, I am learning that it doesn’t really matter what I write about, as long as I write something, and as long as I’m honest. I may be full of crap, but I can guarantee you that I’m speaking the truth as I see it.

On the technical side, I’ve learned that it takes me about two hours to write one of these, and that they average between 700 and 900 words each. That does include editing, but my editing process for blog posts consists of a spell check with a glance at punctuation and grammar. I may not be perfect at it, but this is how I speak in real life, and that’s the tone I’m going for. I think I have a fair grasp of the English language, and I am learning every day how to convey emotion through the written word [y’all let me know how I’m doin’ okay?].

What I’ve been pondering today, though, is: What the heck do I want to write?

The books I’ve begun are fantasy [which I love to read]. The first one, I went completely organic, just writing as I went. About 8,000 words in, I fell into these huge plot holes, and couldn’t find my way out.

The second one, I went with the Marshall Plan for novel writing. I plotted about half of it, and then started writing from the beginning using my handy-dandy novel sheets. I think I got distracted from that one, but also, after I had planned out and written down everything that was going to happen in the scene [without actually writing it in manuscript form] I felt like I had written it already. I also started changing things as I wrote the actual manuscript, which rendered useless over half of my novel sheets for later in the book. So it ended up being an exercise in futility.

The third one was my NaNoWriMo entry. I tried, but never really got past the starting gate on that one. I will probably try it again next November, but for this year, I’m done.

I liked all the ideas for my novels, but I hit a brick wall with all three. So, I’m trying to figure out what that block is. Several contributing factors come to mind, though. They may all go back to one root cause, but here goes.

1. Until now, I have not set apart time every single day to write. My kids are seven, four, and two, but there are a lot of professional [female] writers who have young kids and manage just fine. I think that I have not prioritized my writing as I should have. It’s been more of a ‘when I feel like it’ kind of thing and I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t work. I’ve been manufacturing guilt feelings, thinking I’m a bad mom if I take the time I need to do this.

I’m also very disorganized, and a little scatterbrained when it comes to house work, so I feel guilty if I’m writing when I think I should be cleaning [which I almost never do, so the writing never gets done, either.] Lord ‘o mercy, got neuroses?

2. There’s the fear of failure thing. What if I suck? What if I send it off and get a letter back saying, “This is positively the worst drivel I’ve ever seen! What were you thinking, you nitwit?” [yeah, I know that wouldn’t happen, but I’m wallowing here, so cut me some slack!]

3. Then there’s this evil woman who has lived in the back of my brain for as long as I can remember. She talks too much, and says stuff like this: You suck. You’re lazy. You never finish anything. Writing is work, and you have never worked at anything else in your life, you always give up when it gets hard, remember? [then she spews a long list of every failure, real or imagined, in my life.]

Yup. I’m thinking it’s time to kill the b****, what do you think?

Let’s give her a name. It can’t be mine, because while she’s part of me, she’s a damaged part that isn’t the real me.

When I was in the seventh grade, I had a friend who called me snelby. I hated it. It made me feel degraded because she always said it with this snide nasal tone, and I never could get her to stop.

Wow, I had forgotten feeling that way, but it’s all right here, and I think that could be where Negative Girl might have come from. Anyway, I always felt degraded, put down, made fun of, and so small and helpless with those people who were supposed to be my friends. I don’t know what the motivation was for them to act that way, and I don’t know why I put up with it[looking back, you’d think I would have found some different friends, wouldn’t you?].

So anyway, let’s call her Snelby, because that name encompasses all the pain of my childhood, always trying, but never quite fitting in. I don’t think we have to kill Snelby. I think we have to heal her broken heart. And we have to forgive the people who hurt her, because whatever their reasons, it wasn’t something wrong with me. It was a broken place in their own hearts.

I forgive you, my school friends,
For hurting the fragile child that I was.
I forgive you, “Snelby,”
For believing the lies they told.
You were never stupid,
Or ugly,
Or unworthy of support,
Love, and success.
Take back your power, child.
The beginning is now.

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