Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Thursday, March 13, 2008

*Opens eyes*

Today I was reading the blog of my fellow writer and namesnerd Jess, who I know online, and some of her comments felt highly relevant to me. She was talking about how we (writers and women, specifically) tend to put our need for me-time last before the needs of everyone and everything (housework?) else.

She also posted a link to a rant by highly respected fantasy author Robin Hobb. The rant was concerned with the fact that too many potential writers waste time and words on blogs (theirs and other peoples’) and thus never get any actual writing done.

These two comments together had me rattled.

It’s absolutely true that I spend valuable writing time playing on message boards and blogs and other interthingies. But it’s not because I think they have some value to me as a writer, as discussed in Hobb’s post. It’s something quite simple, something we studied in my education degree: avoidance. I’m so scared that I’m no good as a writer, so disbelieving that I could ever produce anything of quality, that I just don’t start. I sink my time into fun but frivolous communications, and then miraculously find that I’ve run out of time and can put off the frightening writing until another day.

[Ironic really – as a teenager I used writing to avoid homework in the same way I now use the internet to avoid writing. Oh, for the inventiveness and naïveté of sixteen!]

I think that, since the 20,000 words of Sorcerim had to be abandoned due to fatal plot flaws in 2005, I’ve quite simply lost my nerve. It’s easier to dream of writing and avoid doing it than to face down another disaster like that. I carry on avoiding so I don’t have to face my own inadequacy. But I can’t just stop writing, because it’s an inalienable part of me.

Which dovetails nicely with Jess’ point about devaluing me-time and denigrating our writing to allow ourselves to sacrifice it for others’ needs. I don’t devalue my writing for that reason, but the hat still fits. I don’t value it, and I don’t value other needs either. Recently I’ve felt a few times that I could benefit from some emotional or spiritual support from someone trained to provide it, but I’ve held back because my problems aren’t “important” enough compared to the problems some people face.

Well, sure, they’re not, when you look at it that way. What do I need help with? I’m learning a new and challenging job, I’m missing my boyfriend, I have premature wedding fever, and I’m clucky. Big deal. Peanuts next to the problems some people face.

But . . . they’re still problems, and they’re still hurting me, even if they’re low on the scale of human suffering. Why should I be ashamed to seek a wee bit of help when I’m feeling sad or distressed, just because my reasons aren’t earth-shattering?

I need to stop fearing that my writing ability will let me down. I need to face down that fear and try it. I need to spend less time avoiding it and more time proving that I can do it. And I need to spend less time dwelling on and more time dealing with problems. Blogging doesn’t make anything go away. Except time which could be spent living dreams instead of avoiding nightmares.

[I realise that spending 20 minutes writing a blog post on this subject was a wildly and ironically inappropriate way to process this. Go, me. But with any luck organizing my thoughts like this will help somehow.]


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