So here it is – the blog that I’ve been putting off making for quite some time. It’s not that I don’t want one. It’s not that I think it would be a hassle to keep up with. While I was still – I will say actively – working on my books, I used that as an excuse to put this off. If I was going to write, I was going to write a book. Or ten. And while that excuse is valid, it’s not the complete reason as to why I didn’t start one sooner. A lack of understanding the sharing websites (Tumblr, Twitter), while also valid, is not why I’ve been dreading this moment for months on end now. Which reason to touch on first? The easiest? Are any of them simple? Should starting a blog really be SO difficult?
I used to write on these things. I will say that, until I began writing books (and had more than half of the ones I’ve written under my belt), my blogging was the tippy-top of my writing capabilities. I had my good, old fashioned journal. I had my Myspace blog. Then I had my blog. There was always an issue with writing quality for me. In my journal, I never had the worry that anyone would read it so I could be open and honest, but knowing that no one would read it made me incredibly sloppy. My Myspace blog…well, I knew that at least a few people would read whatever it was that I had to say about my idiocy on any given day. I’m not sure if it was the fear of how my words would be taken, what people would think, or how big of a fool I would make myself out to be, but it was like stretching out a rubber band to only half of its potential. If you stretched it too far, it would most assuredly break. Why bother? If I didn’t try my hardest, I could always use that as an excuse. And I would always have a rubber band.
But my blog? No one knew about it, but there was always the possibility that someone I knew would find it. I made it simple enough for it to be a feasible concern. It was the knowledge – a little whisper in the back of my head – that I was writing for some secret audience. So I pushed myself to my potential at the time and it was so startlingly easy. It was the only time that I could look back at my writing and say that I was somewhat proud of the words I had managed to get out.
I’ve always written, but it doesn’t come easy for me – at least not in the way that I wish it would. Nothing ever comes out the way that I want it to. My words don’t flow. I get distracted and stray off topic. I used to write about myself – what was going on in my life, how I was feeling, and again, my own idiocy. My imagination is practically nonexistent. When mulling over the idea of writing a book (which is something that I’ve done for a great many years), I always thought that – if I did – it would be about some real life experience…something that I had gone through, something that I could potentially help another person with.
2010 my husband deployed. It was like a wrench in the spokes of my life. His time in the military was almost up; he wasn’t supposed to deploy with his unit. We had literally two days notice that he would be leaving, then those two days passed and I found myself sitting around on the third – back at home with my parents – and wondering what in the world I should do. So, I bought some new books, read them, bought some more, read them. Wash, rinse, repeat. It was quite a long time ago when I learned that reading books was a way to escape from my life when it was letting me down, when it wasn’t enough, when I was sad, or afraid, or angry. I buried myself in books for several months to cope and to pass the time; I’m not ashamed of it. And it worked for those few months. Then I woke up one day – after reading several disappointing books in a row (you know the ones you have to fight and struggle to finish) – and got this absolutely ludicrous idea in my head that I was going to write a book I would actually want to read. I invited my cousin over, we talked about it, he helped me with a few ideas. I started writing the first little bit on my desktop computer – tossing around ideas, testing the waters. When I was able to talk to my husband on the phone, I discussed it with him. Being the unbelievably awesome, supportive person that he is, he said, “Go spend the money on a laptop if that’s what you want to do.” I did. Thus, my first child was born, so to speak.
And I was proud of that little monster while it was still developing. I can remember sitting in my chair one night, looking down at my tiny little laptop screen and having the revelation of, “I am writing a book.” That turned into, “I have written a book.” Which turned into, “I have written a series of six books.” Each revelation was surprisingly less amazing to me. Not because I’d become accustomed to the fact that I was – by any definition of the word – a writer, but because I wasn’t happy with it. It wasn’t necessarily the story; I still love that story and its horrendously twisted characters/situations. It was me. It was my involvement in it. My failings. My selfishness. My writing.
I tried for a little while to get it published. I believe I sent out about five or six query letters. I can remember the disappointment of never hearing back, the shame of the few polite rejections. I am nothing but happy about those rejections now. It was while I was writing up one of those queries that I had probably the most important revelation of my entire writing life. I read through the prologue, I sat there, I blinked at the screen, then I looked away. “This is crap.” Of course it was a different four letter word that I said in my head that night. The meaning is still the same. Almost two years of my life spent on something that was, yes, possibly better than some of the books that I’ve read, but by my standards was…not even decent. The story was there. The characters were there. It was the writing.
Everyone tells me that I’m too hard on myself. But what a disappointment it is to invest absolutely everything you have – your time, your energy, your personal life and relationships (as they both get pushed entirely to the side when you’re writing), your heart, your soul – into something and realize that you could have done better. You should have done better. Someone else could have done better. If I’m hard on myself it’s because I never, ever want to think those things again.
I let that disappointment eat away at me for what felt like eternity. Time passes very slowly when you’re miserable. I can’t explain all of the thoughts you have. “I’m not good enough.” “I ruined my own story.” “This was the best I could do; if I can’t get this published, I’ll never get anything published.” “I shouldn’t bother trying to write anything else.” “Why should I waste years of my life doing something, only to fail?” “I am not good enough at the only thing in my life that I’ve ever loved doing.”
I told my husband that I was taking a break from it all – that I would edit my series again at some point when I felt like I could. Sitting here now, I can’t tell you if I was being honest with my husband when I said that. I don’t know if I was being completely honest with myself. I don’t know if there was anything at all inside of me that told me I was capable of picking that story back up, of tasting every word and adjusting each and every one of them until they had just enough salt. I think I was lying to myself when I said, “I’m going to do it. I just need some time off. I’ve been working so long. I need to breathe. I need to have a free thought.” I think that deep down…I didn’t believe I was capable of it.
And yes, time passes so slowly when you feel that way. I tried to justify it. I’ve never really thought the idea that I could do what I loved and support myself with it was fair. Life tells you that you have to be miserable. You have to get a job that you either hate, or can just tolerate. Life tells you that you have to put off your dreams until you have the time or the means to accomplish them. I’d never had a single dream in my entire life. I didn’t grow up wanting to be an astronaut, or the first female president. I had things that I wanted to do for a little while at different points in time. Dog behavioral expert, chef, police officer, etc. I never thought that the one thing I’ve done for almost my entire life could turn into what it has. So, a month passed and that thing – that dream – began eating away at me. It wouldn’t let me sit around and mope about my inadequacies. It wouldn’t let my mind be idle. It’s not even my love of writing. It’s the stories. The stories will not let you rest. They give you no peace until you get them out.
One word popped into my head while riding who knows where with my husband; I can’t remember where we were going that day because it shut off the rest of my brain. One word. One single word brought an entirely different story to life in my head.
So I worked. I woke up, I worked, I slept. Once a night I would force myself to leave my writing shed and go inside to eat something. It sounds horrible, I know, but it was the farthest thing from it. I was doing what I loved. I was happy. I was consumed.
And one day I looked down at my new, bigger laptop screen (it was amazing to be able to see the words without squinting), blinked a few times, and then looked away. “It’s like I didn’t even write this.”
That was the biggest compliment that I could ever give myself. Me saying those words was me really saying that the writing was good – that it was resting at some strange, unknown place that went past ‘satisfactory’. I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know if it was the story, me living inside the head of an extremely intelligent main character and wanting so badly to bring her to life accurately, or simply because by the end of it I had been writing and editing nearly every day for almost two and a half years. (Obviously that second series was finished much quicker than the first). I just don’t know.
I finished it in six months or so. I edited it. I edited it again. And again. And on that last one I realized that I could not do anything else to it apart from the few changes that you can’t help but make here and there. It was complete. It was…good.
Now I’m at the point where I’m sending off queries, trying to convince agents that they want to invest in my story and in me. A salesperson, I am not.
The last query that I sent off (four days ago), I threw all query-writing-knowledge out of my head. I can’t write them. So I wrote a man a letter. I won’t get him as an agent, I know that. But I cannot express how good it felt to read two sentences near the end (after apologizing for how unorthodox it was). I don’t write books to contain myself, or a story, in one page. I write books because the only guidelines to follow are the ones that I forge with those characters as they grow and develop.
Now I’m wondering if my books will never see the light of day because I am incapable of being short-winded. How do you fit an entire world into a paragraph? How do you fit your entire life – your hopes, your aspirations, your dreams, your wishes, your motivations – into a sentence that will make people believe you’re worth taking a chance on? How do you say anything when saying nothing? How do you limit yourself when you feel that there are no limits to any of it?
I am a writer. I write. I am not an author. An author has an agent, books on the shelves of bookstores.
My dream is multidimensional. I want to help people. I want to give people a way to escape from their lives, even if only for a day of reading a book. I want to give people hope that they can get through the bad things that life throws their way. I want to help young girls realize that a relationship not working out is not the end of their world.
For that to happen, I need the next two steps before there are no more – before all steps are out of my hands and the big picture is there for everyone to see. I’ve written the books. The middle step is the agent, the publishing contract. Then there is the last step before they get sent out into the world. I am so terrified that neither of those things will ever happen – that I will be stuck on step one for the entirety of my life. Step one is a feat in and of itself to be sure, but I am not satisfied with it. The stories are not satisfied with it.
I’ve been putting off starting a blog because I am so terrified of everything. I don’t expect my writing on here to be exceptional. It’s my personal blog, so who really cares? I’ve had a great many conversations about it with my husband and my best friend. I needed a Facebook so I made one. I needed a blog so I’m making this now. I needed all of these things to connect me to other people. I am not a salesperson. I can hardly speak to people when faced with it. I am a writer.
I’ve put off starting a blog because I’m afraid that it will be another query letter. Another failed attempt. Another thing to look back at later and hang my head over. I could’ve said that better. I could’ve worded that differently. I wish I could stay on subject. I wish I could get this out right. I wish anything would come out the way I want it to. My god, do I seriously have to write that much to say such a small thing?
But it’s all part of the process and maybe someone out there will listen to my long-winded ramblings. It’s so weird for me to think, “Maybe someday the planets will align and everything will work out.” That’s not how a realist thinks.
Maybe one day the second and third parts of my dream will happen and all my literal blood, sweat and tears will pay off (the blood was due to an unfortunate binder-falling-me-catching incident). Maybe one day I will be able to send my words out into the vast unknown to be picked up and carried by random people like the wind. Maybe one day those words will help someone get through a bad break up. Maybe one day those words will motivate someone to take charge of their life and their destiny. Maybe one day those words will motivate someone else to follow their unrealistic dream just because it’s worth it to be happy (no matter how miserable it makes you at times). Maybe one day those words will simply make someone smile when they wanted to frown, or laugh when they wanted to cry.
There is this image that haunts the back of my head. The third and final step before those maybe one day’s can happen. It’s an image of me, holding the first of my published books in my hand, looking at my husband, my parents, my family, my best friends, smiling at all of them and saying the words I will not let myself say until that very moment when all the planets in my personal universe have aligned.
“I am an author.”
Maybe one day.