A line from one of my favorite movies of the past 20 years, Finding Forrester, sums up my present conundrum quite well, I think.
“…we walk away from our dreams afraid that we may fail or worse yet, afraid that we may succeed.”
One of the things I planned to do this weekend was get back to work on revising and rewriting my novel, Terminal Offender, which I haven’t had a whole lot of time to do so far this year.
With said year approaching the halfway mark in a week’s time, I shudder to think that I’ve barely touched it when at this point last year, I was in the final weeks of completing the first draft after four months of sitting at my computer everyday, whether I was really in the mood or not, because I was both unemployed and highly motivated to get it done.
And I suppose that’s where things started to go a little awry.
With it done, I lobbied my friends for Alpha Readers who could take a look at it and offer me some pointers on what I needed to do in the second draft, knowing full well that the story needed a lot of work.
*Editorial Note: I may be a writer, which makes me inherently both narcissistic and extremely sensitive to even the most constructive criticisms, but I’m also not an idiot when it comes to recognizing that no writer’s ever gotten their first draft immediately published. Ever.
Only two people volunteered to look at my manuscript. Of those two, one couldn’t be bothered to finish it and we are now no longer friends on any level (for reasons far removed from the book).
More than 250 people I asked. Two participants with one bailing not even halfway through. Not exactly a good sign.
Any creative endeavor is also, at its heart, a collaborative one. Writers work with editors, proofreaders, publishers, illustrators and so on in creating the works they ultimately want other people to read and consume.
For reasons I’ve never really understood, when it comes to having those kind of connections, I’ve never been able to make them happen in any way that has helped me get my projects done. Either they decide they can’t be bothered or they bail halfway through, which leaves me having to continually going back to square one with the only person who seems really interested in bringing my ideas to fruition.
That person being me.
The person who is simultaneously horrified of being deemed a failure and of actually succeeding in anything, because in my experience, it’s almost always resulted in that success being marginalized, trivialized or otherwise written off as some bullshit fraud I’ve managed to pull on the unsuspecting masses.
The feeling I take away from being out on the proverbial island like this is that I don’t have any creative support system because to everyone who knows me, I’m not worth the time. My stories aren’t that good. My ideas are for shit, so why bother when there’s more important things to be doing?
Editorial Note #2: I know that observation is going to be cause for readers to get defensive and/or defiant. I can’t help with that other than to repeat that it’s an observation based on my feelings and perspective, not a criticism.
In the past few months, I’ve watched friends start Patreon campaigns, write novels that are going to soon be published, crank out low-budget B-movie scripts which are now being produced and filmed, create games they’ve been passionate about their whole lives, and perform in concerts, plays and otherwise work in all manner of the creative strata.
I’ve also watched them with an extreme amount of envy and vexation because they’re able to do something which I seemed incapable of for most of my adult life.
They ask for help and they get it, and I know that because in many of those cases, I have been helping them because they asked me to and I didn’t hesitate.
There’s a part of me that knows I am capable of getting this book done, while also acknowledging the fact that I cannot do that entirely on my own. Yes, I’m the one who has to write it, but I also acknowledge how immensely helpful it would be to have someone to bounce ideas off of, look over my work, or just even give me a smack upside the head when I’m mired in my omnipresent self-doubt or a kick in the ass when I’m not feeling motivated.
Call me crazy (trust me, you won’t be the first), but I don’t think I’m asking for a lot.