When I reopened this blog, so to speak, I made a decision that I would post four times a month, no matter what. If I could, I would post more, but this would be my minimal goal. I’ve stuck to that pretty well… up until this month. September has been rough. After a two week break I’m back working at my school, and the county’s hours have shifted so I have even less time home in the evenings. I also have had trips and visits I couldn’t put off so many weekends, and my writing time has mostly been focused on my current project. Somehow it’s almost October and I’ve only written one post.
Fear ambushed me, and I tried to outrun it.
No worries, I thought. I always have four or five ongoing drafts. Usually I have more post ideas than I have time to write, so I’ll just polish three of them up and loose them out into the world.
No good. I have already posted all but my most difficult ones; the ones where I have something I really want to say, but am struggling to make it come out right. The gap between what they were and what I wanted them to be was too great for a single week.
I thought I’d watch another episode of Veggie Tales and do a quick review. Next on the list is Esther. Perfect, I thought. A few days later, I’m almost a thousand words in and nowhere close to done. This may be a two-parter. Not in a good sense, as in “yay I have two pieces to write!” In a bad “this will take many drafts and days to get right” sense. Two parters often take two or three times as long as writing two separate posts.
Also, as I’m thinking through these strategies, I realize that I now have less than a week, because this weekend includes a trip to visit my brother who, well, I think the word “estranged” was invented for cases like these. Hopefully it will end in happy connection and reconciliation… I’m not getting my hopes up. My brother is far too good at being the superficial gentleman and then disappearing. In any case, I don’t anticipate having any stress-free time for focused, quality writing over the weekend, which leaves me with four days to meet my goal.
Why does it matter? Can I say “Oh well, this was a weird month,” and let myself go?
My answer is no, because I’m serious about this. Some people work well with flexibility, I work best with concrete goals and plans. We often think that our emotions guide our actions, but just as often it is the other way around. I believe that this blog will help my writing career take off, if I am persistent with it. If I stick to my goals, I will be able to maintain my persistence and focus, but if I abandon my goals, that focus will fade away. If excuses are all right now they will be all right next month, and the next. This month feels like the beginning of losing everything I want for myself.
The other reason is that I have something to prove to myself. I’ve hinted a few times at a big project I have been working on. I’ve written ten short stories, which I am currently polishing, and collectively they will make one long story. I’m going to publish them serially, for free, once a week like a television show. Then I’ll take a break but come back soon with the next “season.” My big fear with this is the worry that, once I start, I won’t be able to keep it up. As with this blog, I know the key to success in this project will be persistence.
Everyone struggles with doubts in who they are and what they can do. We can give ourselves all the pep talks we want, but doubt is liquid. It finds the smallest cracks to slip through, and once inside, it takes the shape of its container. Whatever you care about, doubt will find a way to fill it up, because it’s not the amount of confidence or preparation or skill you have. It’s that doubt is a part of our nature, perhaps a part of our common sense; our awareness of how little is actually in our control and how limited our perceptions really are. The only defenses against doubt, I’ve found, are temporary talismans. This is one of mine; hitting the big blue publish button, ignoring the little voices that ask me if a post is really good enough. As long as I do this, the doubts will not come true. I will be a paid, self-supporting author someday, so long as I do this.
Well, one of the perks of being a writer is that any unpleasant moment can be turned into fodder for a new piece of writing.
There. Now it’s just two more posts. Let’s see if I can do this.