To read more from participants in Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group, click this link.
For the last five weeks, I’ve been camped out on a writer’s “high.” At the end of August, I put my head down and refused to let it up until I completed chapter-by-chapter revisions of Honeydew Ever After. Once I finished those, I read the entire 93,000 word manuscript out loud, twice, mending a boatload of typos as well as logic and timing issues. After that, I tore apart my first two chapters, yanking out anything smacking of yawn-worthy. Yesterday, I sent the manuscript off to one of my amazing readers, and while I have no doubt it will be returned with pounds of red ink, for the first time, I’ve contemplated the future of this thing—such that, in an attempt to rest my throat between out loud reads, I drafted a query letter—my first.
Exciting stuff, right? Right!
But also, wrong.
Shall I describe the “what if’s” dancing around in my head?
What if I’ve spent eighteen months (so far) on a story that’s not good?
What if my writing is poor?
What if my readers are only being nice?
What if I send this thing out there and nothing happens?
Since the great bloodletting of 2009 wherein my head did not survive the corporate chopping block, I have radically reduced the challenge of my outside-of-the-home work, as well as my pay check, in order to focus on my writing. In spite of my supportive husband and daughter, this makes me feel guilty every single day. They have given me the gift of time to prove myself at this thing I love. What if I don’t repay them with success?
I know the solution to these negative thoughts is to keep writing. I know it. But, write what?
I've started another story, but I don’t love it the way I love Honeydew. I contemplate researching information for it, acknowledging in this case, the time spent will act as a delay tactic because I’m not attached to the story. Will that come? How much time do I invest before I know?
Oh, how I’d love to vault back to those last waning days of summer when I threw off the covers at dawn, spooned down a bowl of oatmeal before grinding the coffee and digging into my manuscript again. For those weeks, I weighed less, I danced more, I sang all the time. I breathed in the aura of accomplishment circling my head and let it permeate my insides. All around me, a warm breeze of triumph brushed my skin, even when I sat far from the computer.
Now though, exhilaration has drifted away—like a kite I let go in the wind, the small dot of a helium balloon floating far above the ocean. I’m in a holding pattern, a little bereft, a little lost.
What if that feeling from this summer never comes back to me again?