I spent a very long time writing that piece last night and I need to get to bed earlier tonight, so just a reflection on that experience right now… It was nerve-wracking! I rewrote the opening paragraph seven times… I was very anxious and panicky trying to write it. But once I got into it, it started to flow and I found myself really enjoying it. Just the initial panic attacks and fatalism were quite unpleasant.
The thing I found the most difficult, though, was shutting up my perfectionism. I kept telling myself, “Shitty first draft” (and this may help clarify why that is a useful term rather than judgmental as it sounds). I kept telling myself shitty first draft to allow myself to just play… But it was hard. Even knowing that it was just an exploration, it was just an experiment, it was a shitty first draft and therefor intended expressly NOT to be good, it was hard to stifle the panicked voice in my head that worried that… I didn’t have a plan. I had no idea where the story was going, who these characters were, how I wasn’t researching, I wasn’t world-building, I couldn’t world-build because I didn’t have a fucking plan! I didn’t know the relationships between the characters, I had too many character for such a short piece of writing, I… couldn’t completely avoid reworking sentences multiple times to get the wording just right even as I was writing… I worried that I was being anachronistic, that I hadn’t justified the differences in characters’ dialects, I hadn’t given enough description or… too much… I wouldn’t be able to SELL this.
Because I write to sell?
I seriously never sell any of my stuff, yet that remains this bar in my mind that is the standard I must reach in everything I put down in words. And it’s fucking exhausting and stupid and limiting.
For the few moments between anxiety hijacking that I was able to just write last night… I enjoyed it. I glimpsed that part of me that wrote as a child… to explore a new world that I’d never seen before (because no one had written it before)… to just let the words flow out… to write a story I wanted to read… to live in a world I wanted to see… For fleeting moments, like glimpses of the sky between cresting waves… I saw why I write.
I just don’t know how to survive the waves. I don’t know how to convince myself to throw myself into them every night just for a few glimpses of sky.
The waves need to go.
I just don’t know how.