I’ve been anguishing about my writing lately, and whenever this happens, I seek affirmation. It must be an ugly sight. Nightly I crawl into Ryan’s lap, or lay my head on his shoulder, give him my puppy-dog eyes and say, “I can’t do this! I’m not good enough!” He knows the drill, and, bless his heart, plays his part without an inkling of exasperation (I knew I chose the right man!) “Of course you can,” he says. “You’re a terrific writer, and you’re so dedicated.” I’m reassured enough to sleep.
By morning, the insecurities have returned, and I call my writing friend. Same thing: “I can’t do this! My story sucks!” She, too, patiently comforts me. I always hang up the phone feeling relieved, back on course. But within a few hours I’m up pacing the floor, berating myself. What was I thinking, trying to write fiction? The arrogance! The stupidity! Starbucks is hiring–I should just go work there, for crying out loud!
After I talk myself out of that I refocus, and sit down at the computer. And of course, nothing has changed. I’m faced once again with a story that’s floundering, a plot that’s flopping about, and characters that are running amok. And today I’m struck by how isolating writing is, not just because the writing lifestyle demands long days spent cooped up indoors, crouched over a keyboard. Rather, I realize I am alone in this. No one else has ever told this story, and no one else can because it is my story to tell. I can scream and whimper and find shoulders to cry on, but there is no one else. No one can write it for you, no one can understand your characters or give you that one element that somehow you know you are missing. It’s entirely up to you. This concept scares the crap out of me; at the same time, I think it’s what keeps me writing and exploring, the thought that both the product and the struggle are uniquely mine.