Monday, December 12, 2011

The Use of Fear

Frank Miller's That Yellow Bastard from Sin City. 
I mentioned on Twitter the other night that I was 'feeling small' about my writing. I know why.

I'm nearing the end of writing the Zero Draft of a complete novel. By complete I mean 'worthwhile'. This is my fourth NaNoWriMo win and the most significant. (I almost wrote 'perhaps' there after 'and'.) I slept on what I was feeling and realized when I got up on Sunday that it was Fear of Finishing, Sadness at Ending. I've lived with these characters for nearly two months, watching their progress and hoping that I wasn't being too big a bastard for all the obstacles I kept putting in their way.

But that was my job for this project: to be the Big Bastard who makes life difficult for them. I'm comfortable now in that role here at the end. More comfortable than I was at the beginning when I wasn't sure the story was going to work out. I can't say that I'm reveling in destroying their lives, but I'm having some amount of fun. The latest ten thousand words (70,000 to 80,000) have been really difficult. I had to go back and remind myself of what R.L. Naquin said about Fear:

I think everybody’s got a vicious, negative voice whispering in their ears, whether they’re a writer, an accountant, or a mountain climber.
Slam the door in its face. Don’t let the voice win. YOU are the boss.
Yeah, that's it. That's what I needed to remember. I don't often have conversations with myself like that, I tend to be very introspective about things that don't really matter. If I've learned anything writing Juggy & the Duchess, it's that it's not enough to just be tenacious. I have to be vicious with myself to keep pushing forward. With the end of NaNo, I don't have that twice-weekly write in that I became addicted to. I've had to go the last eleven days essentially alone and that's why the Fear crept in. Not that my support team isn't there, they are and they've been great.

It's that I'm back to writing alone again. It's just me and my thoughts, me pushing myself to get this finished. Not just to complete the work as I have in past years but to actually finish. Have a complete novel that might be good (I think it is, we'll see what my trusted readers will come back with) and get it into shape to shop around. Being alone like that is okay, it really is. I'll see my group later this week when we have a get-together and I'll come back with the energy I need to be brave enough to get the work done.

What am I afraid of? Finishing? No, I've done that though this is the longest I've spent writing a single work. It's also the largest single work I've attempted. I'm afraid that my friends who I love dearly and trust implicitly will figure out that I'm a fraud and that my writing is no good. Or as Phil Hester tweeted not so long ago:


The forecast calls for uncertainty in the morning with a 70% chance of frustration in the afternoon.


I'm going to find out here soon whether or not I'm a good writer. My peers will be brutal if need be and complimentary if the work deserves it. I trust them and I fear them at the same time. I want my writing to be liked. That's normal isn't it?

Regardless, I've got a self-imposed deadline of Thursday to finish this draft and I'm going to make it. Somehow, some way, it's going to happen. The Fear will just have to sit in the corner and sulk. I'll worry about how good my book is after I'm done banging out these last 10,000 words or so.