Thursday, May 28, 2015

Slamming the Brakes

Today I want to quit. Throw my hands up in frustration and give in to the nagging voices and lack of or outright negative reviews.

There are times I want to stop being a writer in my spare time and find something else to do. Something I'm better at, something that means a little more to more people. Maybe I should just focus on my day job which I'm a helluva lot better at.

I keep this quote from Harlan Ellison prominently displayed in my office at home:

"You can either seek the approbation of the monkeys or you can continue to produce your art at the level at which you do it best." 

Sometimes it helps me through the bad days. Not always - but sometimes.

What it does is remind me that I have to write for myself first, not what little audience I do have. Do I level up from time to time? I sure as hell hope so. The more practice I get the better I should be.

And though it feels like writing in a vacuum, I know I have a lot of support. I've been with my writer's group for seven years or so and they're a terrific bunch. They keep me honest. I've got friends who've been behind me for fifteen years while I've gone from making mini comics to trying to be a prose writer.

I'd like to think I've grown as a storyteller.

But that gnawing doubt works on me around the edges taking little bites here and there. So much that today I want to quit. Again.

I'm not going to. No way. But I'm staying realistic about this. I'm writing for myself first. If you dig what I write, thank you so much. I'd love to hear from you. If you don't dig it, well, I understand. There are a lot of things I don't get into, too. I'd ask you to give me another shot on something else that intrigues you but if you don't I understand. There's so little time nowadays for things we don't like. So thanks for trying my stuff out. I appreciate it. Very much.

The likelihood of me being a best-selling author is pretty slim. One day I'd be grateful to make enough money to support going to shows to do my live writing. That'd be awesome. Or even enough money to fix the major things around the house that need doing. Here's a favorite, if out of context, quote from The Upside of Anger:
"It's a tall order for a patient motherfucker."
But that's me. I'm a patient motherfucker. I'll get close to what I want if I keep at it. So I'm not giving up, I'm not quitting even though I really want to. The writing will get better. I'm grateful you're along for the ride. I hope someday to write something you really like.

I'll leave you with this from Ursula Le Guin:


Sara E. Lundberg said...

Hey hon, I totally feel you. Sometimes I get so frustrated that I want to quit, too. And have, actually. I think I've spent as much time quitting as I have writing in my writing career. Making art is HARD. It's hard and thankless and subjective and...well it really sucks except when it's awesome.

We totally won't let you quit, but if you need a break, hell, that's totally understandable. It's taken me many years of quitting to realize even if I'm not writing, I'm still a writer. So are you.

So I'm glad to hear you aren't quitting. I'm sorry to hear you are discouraged. All I can say is that you are not alone. I think all writers go through that. And also? Don't worry about the reviews. Don't even read them. You can't please everyone, and some people are just assholes. Don't let them get you down.

Have faith in yourself and know that you do keep getting better. The more you write, the more you read, the more you learn and the better you get.

I hope that helps. I put on my ML pants especially for you here :)

ML pants aside, as a friend, let me know if you need anything, ok? I think you're doing great, by the way.

Jason Arnett said...

Thank you for this pep talk. The second one I got today.

The goal was to simply express my frustration in public. I can't give up. I'd die if I wasn't making something for someone else to consume. I don't know how to be any other way.

A lot's piling up and I need to deal with as much as I can. Overwhelmed is the understatement of the year where I am right now. I guess things came to a boil today.

Anyway, the support I get from everyone is heartening. Pretty sure I got this but I'll call for help.