Checking In

After yesterday’s angry tirade (which I have since taken down) I had a conversation with my wife. Specifically, we talked about my writing and we did this because I’ve been feeling like an utter failure of late.

During the spring and summer of this year, I submitted a stack of short stories to a bunch of different markets. About 300 times, absolutely all of them came back negative. With not even a nibble I began to suspect that I might be doing something wrong.

This summer and fall, between the atmospheric funk caused by the West being on fire and the psychic funk of living in a dysfunctional country, my word count plummeted. I’m struggling to write anything that doesn’t immediately come off as “Angry White Man.”

All that lumped together means I’m feeling a lot of failures.

Okay, so one of the things a check-in is good for is that it can help a person figure out where they’re at. Done. Then it can be used as a place from which to plan.

Writing is important to me. First, because it’s been a significant part of my personal therapeutic regimen since the seizures started. Simply talking about the way I feel isn’t enough, when I write it down, however, I seem to be giving myself what I need to work through all those feelings and challenges. Second? Well, I’ve just got a lot of science fiction-ish ideas. I mean, that’s what my brain does when it has nothing else to do. I can go for a walk in the woods and come home with a novel idea for interstellar travel or fold a pile of laundry and walk away with an overland trekking idea on a distant world.

Apparently, my stories lack much in execution. I’m too wordy, not descriptive enough, lack tension, raise the stakes too high, can’t spell my way out of a paper sack, end sentences annoyingly, can’t start a sentence interestingly, use the wrong font, use the incorrect size of the right font, lack an author platform, am “that kind of writer,” am that other “sort of writer,” use too many curse words, drop the f-bomb, am too creative with my profanity, am not creative enough with my use of profanity, can’t write humor, my attempts to be serious or authoritative come off as doltishly funny, use too many adjectives, lack a wide vocabulary, ignominiously use too many ten-dollar words, and apparently any voice I might have manifested drown in the sea of voices of people all making exactly the same ineffectual attempts to write compelling and entertaining fiction. My failed attempts to write about anything are legion.

Tess’ advice to me was to get into some Clarion classes or maybe look for some other online programs. And truth be told I have virtually zero formal training in how to be a writer so this might be useful. I’ve also got another round of books on hold at the library, so there’s that.

Frankly, it’s possible I just need to stop worrying about publishing … anything … anyway … anytime. Turn this whole enterprise inside so I and my works are protected from the boilerplate criticisms I’ve subjected myself to in the past. I don’t know.

The sensation of failure is never enjoyable and I’ve been wallowing in it.


One thought on “Checking In

  1. Ah, I see you are human, after all. That’s a plus, in this business. Robots we are not, though we may write about such, and it is true that there are some robots that prolifically regurgitate best-sellers. We are not they, though what they reap is sometimes to us what a shiny bauble is to a crow. How great it would be to collect that bauble! Yet, no matter the number of times we kick it all to the curb, we always come back with (figurative or literal) pen in hand, wondering if this time will be THE time. You won’t stop; you can’t stop. None of us can. Write it down. Did it say what you intended? No, do it again. This time? No? One more time. One more time, of course, means infinity more times, when necessary. Stop only when you are satisfied completely. Never satisfied? Just keep running. After all, you have feet for brains.

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