The last couple months I hid from writing. Sure, I blogged and wrote a few paragraphs here and there for various projects. I even wrote an outline for a new book and submitted some articles to blogs and online newspapers. I read about the craft. In short, I did enough to feel like I was still a writer even if I was not making much progress.
In reality, indecision and self-doubt paralyzed me. I could not decide where to focus my attention, on something new or old or in between. Forty-three queries left me uncertain of Expecting Happiness, the occasional agent nibble more confusing than inspiring. I considered shelving it and starting something new, but nothing flowed.
I felt stuck. Family members encouraged me not to leave Expecting Happiness behind, a fellow blogger did the same. So, this week, I opened up the document and did what I should have done before. I am polishing and reshaping again for the good of the book. People always warn me I could write the same book forever, but these changes need to happen. We know deep down where we’re cutting corners.
I will finish Expecting Happiness and be proud of it, even if the idea of being proud is counterintuitive to my intrinsic humility. I want to be confident in my writing. There is a lot more buried in these last couple sentences, but I’ll save it for another post. I just know it is time to stop hiding.
I blogged before about how I find myself wanting children but fear having children will keep me from writing. As I revisit the beginning of Expecting Happiness, I see so many opportunities to explore these feelings more deeply, even if they are distorted into fictional characters who do not write but still have other passions lurking beneath the surface. I know starting a family is such an incredible gift, but for me it also seems like a space to hide when I lose faith in my writing. A child would give me the perfect excuse to stop pushing myself.
This morning I woke up and read a post on Offbeat Families by a writer who has decided to have one child. I applaud her for her honesty about what is important in her life. While I will make no similar decrees, I appreciate her reminder of how crucial it is to stay true to ourselves. I see many women wear motherhood as their identities. I understand this biologically-driven desire but I also see that it would be hiding to use motherhood as a reason not to pursue my other dreams as well.
The past few months have felt frustratingly stagnant in various ways, but I am beginning to see there is a reason behind it all. Now is my time to write, untethered, to carve out the space I will someday covet as time stolen from other parts of my life. I’m laying the groundwork for a life spent writing, regardless of the outcome. I write because it helps me make sense of life. When I distance myself, I feel lost. I must keep going and Expecting Happiness must be finished.
My new goal: Try even if I might fail.
Yes, this probably means self-publishing.
I’m glad you’ve got your mojo back. And taking a second (or third) look at your manuscript is not a bad thing, especially not if you see substantial changes. It’s when you are making minor changes to wording, putting commas in and taking them out again, over and over, that you’re potentially hurting yourself as a writer, in my opinion.
I also don’t think you should be so quick to jump to self-publishing. Self-publishing is a legitimate option, but I believe you should be very sure it’s the avenue you want to take, rather than the avenue you have to take, if you know what I mean. Make sure you investigate it thoroughly, so that you know what it’s going to take to put out the absolute best book you can publish.
Very good advice for me to digest, thank you, as always! I’ve missed seeing you around. For whatever reason, my blog reader doesn’t bring up your posts as often as you write them.
Congratulations! I’m glad you decided to return to Expecting Happiness instead of starting something new. It sounds like the right choice to me and one that I frequently make in the opposite way, which is unfortunate.
Thanks! Here’s to hoping I see it through to the end 🙂 I get so nervous putting myself out there, but I realize it’s time to let that go or nothing will ever happen with my writing.