I’ve learned writing is cathartic for me. It’s a way in which I can connect with others and get to know myself. I process much of my own experience between the lines of my blog posts.
Looking back, I’m sometimes embarrassed or self-conscious about what I’ve written. Yet, despite my second thoughts and self-criticism, I can say without hesitation, this space is… ME. I’ve found some of myself here, writing on The Tall Mom these past six years. I didn’t expect blogging to last, nor did I anticipate it would feel, at times, damn near therapeutic. It is medicine for my angst, confusion, anger, hurts, wants, and more.
Along the way, I ventured out from the blogosphere and tried something else—novel writing. In December of 2015, I published Seeing Ione. I did so with the sincere intent of contributing at least two more installments of Ione’s story in the following two years.
Nearly four years have come and gone with no further tellings of my dearly beloved characters and their hyperbolic shenanigans.
I could list, in detail, all the reasons why. Parents of the world don’t need my inventory of excuses. They know… it is LIFE. Daily life with a young family is a special kind of joyful madness.
On a day in recent past, while reaching into the washing machine to drag out the third load of the morning, I heard my computer ding in the neighboring room. It was my “writing reminder.” That simple electronic chime caused instantaneous anxiety, shame, and guilt.
Because I knew good and well it might sing non-stop all freaking day and the number of words I’d be contributing to my next novel in the ensuing 24 hours would still be a big, fat, ZERO. And that scenario has been on repeat—for what feels like a long-ass time.
Oh, I’ve had periods in the last four years; times when inspiration strikes and I put words to the stories living in my head. I’ve put in time. Birthday weeks spent holed up with just my laptop and the mountains, late nights made later with a glass of wine and the blue hue of my screen reflecting off the office walls, and annual November NaNoWriMo commitments that typically start off with a bang and fizzle by the time I’m stuffing a turkey.
If I’m honest, it isn’t like it was the first time. Writing a second novel has been immeasurably more difficult. Seasoned authors will likely laugh at that sentiment. Duh? I mean, of course it’s difficult. Writing novels, even poorly written novels, is hard work.
Let me be clear. It isn’t the fear of hard work that has me down.
I loathe failure. The gut turning experience of being a disappointment—to one’s self and to others is… just… gross. It’s got its own rancid aroma, doesn’t it? Like, bad milk or off meat. And it’s the kind of feeling that sticks around, contaminating everything around it.
As the “bad milk” of my most recent writing failures spilled into the other parts of my days, I began to question where exactly my feelings were rooted.
And that is when I realized…
I’m doing this wrong.
How many times have I taken something I love and mangled it into something I loathe? I could make another list. I’ll spare you that archive too. But, I’m here to tell you… I have a problem. It’s a “not good enough” problem.
I don’t fear hard work. I fear not being good enough. In fact, I’m terrified I don’t measure up. It’s not that I’m scared my writing isn’t good enough, though I am certainly self-conscious about it. I’m afraid I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
Somewhere along the way, I made up my mind to measure myself against some fantasy ideal version of… myself. The “ENOUGH” me is, well… she’s fucking awesome at it all. And, people, if she says she’s going to do it—she damn well does it. END. OF. STORY.
No one will be surprised to learn, striving to be “ENOUGH ME” is kicking my ass—making me grumpy, tired, depressed, and in the simplest term… unhappy.
Finding time to write, finishing my next novel, and doing what I said I would do is important to me. I absolutely want it. I desperately wish to be the woman who does the things she says she is going to do.
I also want to be happy.
I’ve decided HAPPY is ENOUGH for me.
This isn’t to say I expect to feel happy every second of every day because I’ve made up my mind to do so. I’m not delusional. What I am… is in control.
I get to decide how I measure my own success. I am the person in charge of my choices. And, friends, when it comes to choosing between giving myself over to feelings of anxiety, shame, and guilt or choosing what brings me happiness… Well, it isn’t a conundrum as to which is the better option.
Writing fiction used to make me happy. I have every intention of teaching myself to love that kind of writing again… by refusing to allow myself to mangle it—this thing I know I can love, into something I loathe.
I’ve deleted my “writing reminders.” No more dings. No more floods of “not good enough” feelings. No more anxiety, or shame, or guilt.
I will finish my next novel… in time… or I won’t.
Either way, I’m doing it the right way.
Which is to say, I’m choosing to do it in the way that makes me happy, and that will just have to be good enough.