I was realizing the other day that I don’t just write random blog posts where I TALK. I always have a specific topic I’m talking about, or a review, or an ishness wrap-up post… I don’t just sit down and type with no idea where I’m going.
So this is just that. I’m going to type, and the topic may wander all over the place and it may be messy, but at least it will be different, and at least it will be whatever’s on my heart.
Firstly, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Because I am largely Irish. So there’s that. It may also be the only happy thing in this post, so cling to it.
I’m tired and I’m in a writing slump because I’m still suffering a hangover from NaNo and the Rooglewood contest. I’ve discovered I don’t do well with contests. They burn me out. I still intend to do NaNo in November, but other than that I need to write for me again.
Not to mention that I’m still trying not to spend long hours at my computer because of my hurt back. (I know, people will say that’s a hollow excuse. That I could use a pen. Well I do use a pen sometimes thank you very much, it just gets messy and I need to type it up soon after, otherwise it gets too tangled.)
You may have seen some posts today around the blogosphere, by lovely people who are writers, about what real writers are. I feel oddly inspired and yelled at all at once. But mostly, overshadowing the inspiration is a large bout of depression. Or… I don’t know if it’s inspired. Maybe it’s defiance, which is not exactly inspiration; makes me want to write, not because I feel “oh, I’m inspired!” but to prove the doubts wrong because it sounds as if they’re saying YOU ARE NOT A WRITER BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND WORDS SINCE THE YEAR STARTED. AND BECAUSE YOU GET DISTRACTED BY DIFFERENT STORIES. YOU WILL NEVER BE A WRITER.
But the thing is, I don’t have to have all these posts telling me these things. Because I think them all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. I think I’m not a writer, I worry, I feel guilty . . . it’s not pretty.
Because I HAVEN’T written in awhile. Maybe that means I’m not a writer. Maybe it means I’m really burnt out because I’ve been trying to mold my writing around others’ expectations, which has never worked for me. I have to write what I have to write, and I’ve been trying to avoid that, with disastrous consequences. According to these posts, I don’t believe I’ll ever be a published author, and for those who are reading this and going “but this is a blog about writing, why are you blogging about writing if you’re not going to be an author?” I can only say that I’m tired of saying I’m a writer. Who knows anymore what that means. Everyone says they’re a writer. And they’re all probably right. Because they write. And I, apparently, DON’T.
Maybe I haven’t finished anything in awhile (short stories and novellas evidently don’t count) and maybe I’m distracted by “plot bunnies” and apparently that’s a sin, to have a lot of stories knocking at the door of my brain. And maybe I’ve been focusing too long on trying to put life before writing, because I feel guilty when I ignore my friends or my blog or my work and write instead.
I don’t give myself permission to write, and it’s burning me up because I haven’t written in so long and it’s making me an irritable, depressed person (or… more than usual) because these words inside me need to go somewhere and they haven’t been. These stories want out, all of them, and I’m failing them because I don’t have the discipline to sit down and do it, because my to-do list calls me away. I feel miserable when I don’t write, and I feel miserable when I DO write because I feel guilty for writing instead of doing what everyone else says I should do.
Because if there’s no published book at the end, then why should I be allowed to write? The world will look at me and go “Why are you writing if you aren’t trying to be published?” Well I don’t KNOW if I want to be published, or not; I’m still very confused on that end. All I know is I have stories that want me to tell them — that need me to tell them — and I’ve been abandoning them for human precepts about writing and not writing and I’ve been so burnt out and I just don’t know anymore.
I’ve never considered myself a “writer” in the sense that many people seem to. I’ve always felt a little bit of an outsider, figuring they’re probably doing it right and that I must somehow not be a normal writer because I’m not like everyone else, somehow. I just write the stories that are in my head.
I don’t study books on “the craft” and I don’t write a certain amount every day — or even every day at all. I write in spurts, like a chapter in a day and then nothing for a week. I’ve tried to do it “by the book” — to write a little bit every day. It only burned me out and made me irritated at my story. I’ve tried to read craft books and posts on writing, on HOW YOU SHOULD WRITE OR ELSE YOU ARE NOT A WRITER, but they always leave a bad taste in my mouth because I feel like I’m being forced to do it someone else’s way, and the stories burning in my head won’t let me do that. They want to be told, and they don’t want to be told HOW to be told.
The stories in my head are from the Tree of Story, which Tolkien talks about. They’re out there, and they want me to tell them. And no one else can, so I have to. And it’s not like I can just ignore them or make them what I want them to be, or what others say they should be. They’re THERE. Lots of people seem not to understand this.
I can’t be a writer in the way everyone says I should. I have to find my own way. Everyone will say that’s stubborn, but maybe I AM stubborn. They’ll say I’m not willing to put in the hard work to become an author, not willing to swallow my pride and learn what GOOD writing looks like and take criticism. Maybe those are true, I don’t know.
Apparently I’m not really a writer. I’m a storyteller. And I’m not going to apologize for it. I WANT to write. I do. And I will write. I’ve tried to stop, and I can’t — the stories come back and burn and I have to write them. But sometimes I do get burnt out, and the well is dry, and people will tell me that you have to write on even when you can’t, but sometimes you just CAN’T, okay?
All my life, writing’s the only thing that I feel is ME. I have stories to tell and they’re in my heart, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could turn that into something for my life. (That was what that sentimental post about “following your dream” was about. I don’t know if I believe it anymore.) But if I can’t do it by the world’s standards, then what about my life? If you take my writing away from me, or tell me I’m not a writer, or that my stories don’t matter, or that I’m not dedicated enough to write, then I have nothing. I am a storyholder, and without that story, that writing, I am nothing. “Get a life, then. Get a job. Get a hobby. SOMETHING. If a writer is all you are, but you’re not even that, then what good are you?” That’s a very good question. If I don’t become a published writer, then everyone will wonder what on earth I’m doing with my life to be WRITING without a goal in mind. What’s wrong with me? they will ask.
But my writing is too important to me to do it how everyone else wants me to do it. And I can say that I don’t care what others will think, but it’s not true, because I really am rather timid at heart. I’m Bilbo in an Eagle’s eyrie, lost in a strange and frightening world, not knowing if I’ve just been rescued or if I’m about to be somebody’s breakfast; just wanting to be back home in my hobbit hole with my kettle singing. I just want my little world, without the concerns of wizards or dwarves or dragons or editors or publishers to disturb me. “I miss my books,” he says in the movie. And I do. I miss them. I want to go back to them. Without guilt, without any outside notions invading my mind of amounts of words or whether I’m a failure because I haven’t finished anything in awhile or because I don’t write every day or because I’m apparently not dedicated enough to the “craft” of writing to do what everyone says I should do. I want to go back to my books and love them again. To love them enough to tell them.
“The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there,” says Gandalf in the movie. Well I don’t care about the world, Gandalf. The world can bloody well stay “out there.” My books and maps are where I want to be. “Then world behind and home ahead, we’ll wander back to home and bed,” the hobbits sing in The Fellowship of the Ring. I’m leaving the world behind and going home. My stories want me. And I want them.
I’m aware this is a rant.
I’m aware it’s an excuse, possibly attempting, vainly, to convince myself that I still AM a writer.
I’m aware that I should positively not post this because I should never ever post things written when I’m upset and doubting myself and doubting everything and have a headache and can’t see through tears and generally am not thinking straight.
I always pretend, online, that I’m okay. People online — or even people I see in real life outside my own house — think I’m a cheerful sort of person. They think I’m a bit of sunshine, that I’m happy and that I’m always okay. But I’m not always okay. I have doubts and worries and dark clouds just as much as the next person. I just always hate to be THAT PERSON who rants about my troubles online and makes everyone else feel bad. And my troubles are so minuscule compared to many others’, so I feel like it’s selfish to even mention any of them. Because who am I to be sad? How dare I be sad. So I try to be happy online. And it’s usually okay. But sometimes you just CAN’T.
I may not post for awhile. Or exist anywhere. I don’t know. I think I need to figure some stuff out.
I love you guys and I’m so sorry to dump this on you. I know it would be kinder not to.
But I’m just tired of pretending I’m a “writer” and that I’m trying to be what everyone wants me to be.
I’m so done. I want to be me. I don’t know who that is anymore, but maybe I can find out, someday.
And, oddly enough, I feel rather better now. But it’s not odd, is it? What did I say about those words that need to get out. Writing is a door to the heart, a bridge to the soul. And when the heart and soul are darkened, sometimes the words will be too. But sometimes they will help chase the shadows away.
I may not be a writer by the world’s standards, but (in the elegant words of some British person, I’m sure, whom I can’t recall specifically just now), the world can go boil its head.
My writing is between me and God and my ever-demanding stories, and I don’t have to answer to anyone else for it.
“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we my come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon or to the Sun.”
–The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien