Career Status Update: In Which I Freak Out & Talk Myself Off the Ledge
Awww my dear sweet sweet Luella. So you fancy yourself a writer do ya? You do. Lifelong dream, etc. It all started with the idea for a novel (technically your third attempt at a novel in your life, although the first two were abandoned, as most novels are).
You have a big transformational experience! You don’t want to “write a novel”, you want to “be a writer”, which means understanding how all this crap works. What makes a story work? What keeps us turning pages? You decide you aren’t going to fiddle around in your spare time, you’re going to Make Your Dream Come True like a motherfucking boss.
You study like a crazy person. You write three hours a day and you study the craft for another three hours a day. How do you make this dream come true? Oh! You learn that many successful writers start out practicing their craft with short stories. ‘I can do that,’ you thought. And you did. You’ve practiced for the last three months and you’ve managed to create three decent short stories and a really charming piece of flash fiction. You’ve written a few additional essays along the way as well. Well done you.
And now here it is. The novel writing course you paid money for and dreamed about for the last many weeks has started. It’s time to come back and write the damn thing.
“My idea is stupid. My characters are stupid. I am so full of crap. How can I write a 19-year old? She can’t be me at 19, I know that much, because that bitch was a mess. I have no idea what I’m doing. I am scared shitless.”
The point is to finish it. To make the best damn piece of art you can possibly make. The making of it will make you yet again a better writer, which is the goal. And when it’s done, guess what? You’re going to write another. And then another. And another. Until you’re too old to see the screen and your hands are cramped with arthritis. Because you love it. You love the magic that happens when a character comes to life and starts doing shit you didn’t plan on. You love it when you hit your 1000-words-a-day goal. You love it when you see a pretty pond, decide to write about it, and it randomly turns into a sweet story about finding happiness in a fucked up world.
The point is NOT to make a bestseller, to become the next Liane Moriarty, or to become rich.
Breathe. Work. You can do it.