True Confessions

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Okay, dear readers, it is true confessions time here at Betsy’s Blog.

I’ve been struggling with my writing for about eight months now. I mean, REALLY struggling. The fact is, I’ve been pretty disheartened by the whole situation.

My second book was rejected by the publisher of my first book, and probably rightly so. That’s not unusual – writers get rejected all the time. Heck, I’ve been rejected more times than I can count. But this time it was more difficult to o’er leap the bounds of discouragement.  My work stuttered and staggered, lurched from side to side.

At the same time, the voices in my head began speaking, and they’re not always fun to be around.

Why wasn’t your book good enough? Why don’t you have more written? Why haven’t you produced more? Why do you only have one more book written and _____ has three? You know how you want to rework the book, why can’t you just do it? Why do you always take longer than everyone else to get things done? Why are you so slow? Why can’t you commit like ______ can?

These are not necessarily valid or healthy thoughts, but they’ve been buzzing around inside me since last fall, growing in intensity. And finally, at the end of March, I had what I guess you could call a crisis of faith. I just couldn’t see the point of trying anymore.

One day it struck me that I didn’t HAVE to be a writer. I told myself that, because I call myself a writer, and I’m not producing as I think I should be producing, I’m a failure. But if I DON’T try to write, then I’m not a failure…right? I mean, what the hell? Other people aren’t tormented this way. Other people just live their lives and watch the TV and go to their jobs and are perfectly happy.

So at the end of March, I stopped writing. Everything.

At first it was okay. I felt a little guilty, but it was also a relief not to be under all of the internal pressure.

But the energy I’d been putting into writing turned and spun out into strange obsessions, as I mentioned in my last post. Weeks passed, and I lost my way. Most importantly, I lost my sense of self. I lost my center. I wasn’t the hamster, I was the wheel spinning around and around.

Finally, I started writing again. Just a little.

Before I’d stopped writing, I’d been reworking the manuscript that had been rejected. When I looked at it again, I realized it was pretty good.  Not perfect, but…pretty good.

More importantly, as soon as I opened Scrivener to pull up my work, I felt better. I felt more like me.

I think I needed to go through this crisis to understand (again) that I’m a writer, no matter how I second-guess myself. For better or worse, it’s not just a label I’ve slapped on myself – telling stories is an essential part of who I am.

I also realized that some of my issues were because I felt I needed to trail after everyone else on the path towards being an “awwwthor“.  Don’t get me wrong, the business side of things – publishing, promotion, marketing – is indeed of vital importance, but for me it just can’t take priority over the actual writing.  The writing is what I love and the writing it what sustains me.  If I want to stay sane, “writer” has to come first, not “author”.

So, I don’t know. I’m human – I still feel discouraged when I see people publishing multiple books and I only have one out. But  the past few months have taught me one thing – no matter what else I may be, I AM a writer.

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Comments

  1. This was good! Just insert artist wherever writing is and you have me. Its weird how something we are so passionate about can be so hard to actually sit down and do. It is great to hear you are back at it.
    I still have a few bags of mulch to spread ,but maybe they can wait until after I spend some time in my studio. You are an inspiration! thanks ,Lynn

    • Betsy Horvath says:

      @Lynn: I think I have to remember that the actual act of creation is the most important thing. It’s easier to concentrate on tasks I can just check off my to-do list. Also, since the creative part is all me, I have to give myself enough importance to make the time to do it. *sigh* But you need to spend time in your studio! You do such beautiful, beautiful work. 🙂

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