I want to pull out Fear the Reaper and start working on it. I know it needs some major work, and I want to start on it. But there are things floating around in my brain, halting me.
For one, I’ll have to re-read everything I wrote years ago. This poses two problems. One: What if it sucks? If it sucks, I’ll be really discouraged because I wrote FTR when I was at the height of my creative abilities. Right now, I’m rusty. The metaphors are clunky, the imagery is stale and the plot ideas cliched. It won’t stay this way as long as I keep writing, since writing is a skill you can hone and improve much like a sport or art. I have some natural talent, but I can improve with hard work, research and practice. And I intend to do that work to get back to where I was a few years ago – and hell, I’d like to get even better than that!
But if I pick up Fear the Reaper and it sucks . . . well, I’ll have to face the fact that even when I was writing at my best, it wasn’t very good. Kind of a bummer.
Problem number two: I pick it up, start reading and it’s amazing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever written. I’m a genius. Author win. This doesn’t sound like it would be a problem, but it is. Because, as I said, I’m rusty. I am rusty and crusty and musty. I am old rain boots that got waterlogged, then sat in the sun for three years and started cracking and stinking of melted cancer-plastic.
That’s me right now. If FTR is good, if the bones are there and the story is even anywhere close to awesome, then I have to be THAT awesome before I can touch it. I’m not going to go in there all crusty and get my lame all over it. I’d have to start with something else, work on that for a while, hone my chops. And I don’t wanna. I want to work on FTR. I want to sell that book and have you all read it. Because I love it! It’s my favorite book ever!
I can’t decide which outcome is worse, but either way the road will be long and probably difficult. I’ll have to do battle with my inner critic and that chick is a grade-A cunt. Sorry. But she is.
My inner critic says the meanest things anyone has ever said to me. She beats me down, tells me I’m not good enough, makes fun of my prose, picks at my characters, shuts down my imagery with sniveling laughter.
And I live with her every day. Sometimes, I can shut her up and just do my thing. But when I’m writing, her nasally little voice in my ear is at it’s loudest.
You suck, Jen. Everything you do sucks. You suck at writing, you suck at drawing and crocheting, you suck at being a mother, you can’t even keep the dishes done in your kitchen, what makes you think you can write anther book? Look at that sentence. Forget the typos, what are you even saying here? What’s the point? You’re never going to be one of the greats. You think John Green would write a sentence like that? How dare you even think you could write a book. Who do you think you are? You have nothing to say, nothing to write, and you suck. You just suck. Quit now and spare everyone the pain of toiling through your recycled, hackneyed crap. Just go lay down and sleep. That’s about all you’re good for.
Like I said, she’s a cunt. And it took me a long time to realize she was wrong about me. And that I’m not the only one in the world who has this mean, evil voice in her head, trying to break her spirit. Many creative people deal with self-esteem issues. In fact, it’s common. But just imagine if JK Rowling listened to her inner critic. OMG, Daniel Radcliff might not be on a card in Cards Against Humanity. We wouldn’t have muggles and wizards, no Voldemort, no Dumbledore. The world would certainly be a darker place without Rowling’s magic.
I’m not saying I’m JK Rowling over here, but I sure would like to be half the writer she is.
Listening to that bitchy inner critic of mine certainly won’t help me get there. I’m just afraid that if I start writing again, especially if I start with FTR, she’ll get extra loud and mean and I won’t be able to drown her out.
Yep, that’s it people. I’m scared. TO. DEATH.
That’s all the inner critic is to begin with, after all. She’s fear. She’s the voice of our fears.
But she’s forgetting one thing, right? I’m a badass. And I refuse to give her opinion of my work anymore credence. She’s wrong. I know it. You know it. And listening to that crap will not get me closer to a career in writing. Listening to her won’t allow me to share my thoughts, opinions and views (which DO have value and worth) with anyone. I can’t create characters or stories or epic cliffhangers that make you want to tear your hair out.
(Gotta admit, I love a good cliffhanger. Especially when I’m the only one who knows what will happen in the end. I know. I’m evil.)
I just don’t want to slip into my old habits. I feel strong and confident right now, but what about a week from now? What setbacks will make my inner critic’s voice louder? Will I still be able to ignore her? Will I still think I’m worthy? A badass?
I hope so. I’m going to do battle with that brat, that’s for sure. And I really hope I win. Because if I do win, I’m betting you’ll be reading Fear the Reaper, Blood on the Moon 3 and many other books from me in the future. And I want that. I don’t want to let you all down again. Or, for that matter, myself.
So wish me luck, guys. I’m going to read that freaking manuscript. And I’m gonna slay it.