I haven’t traveled in some time. At least not physically. Mentally, well, if words were miles I’d have circled the world three times by now.
I have been far, far away writing into creation this world in my mind. Every day new characters, motivations, connections, and details find their way on to my virtual page. I don’t know where they come from. Is this the mythical “river” so many artists speak of? Ideas like fish swimming hidden in the depths.
It’s a strange feeling, surprising yourself. I’ve spent hours at night, mulling over “fixes” for certain pieces of my plot, certain boring characters, usually to no avail. And then, some mornings, as cats jam their paws under the door to claw away my focus, I throw on my yoke, type toward my goal, and I notice flowers along the path where it had only been barren before. The feeling is almost like a shiver, like the inpouring of something alien.
I have a lot left to write, but I can feel things long unresolved clicking into place. I’m hopeful that I will reach a kind of tipping point and my momentum will skyrocket. I can feel that point approaching.
None of this proves what I’m writing is any good. I certainly don’t know; I’m the creator and I perpetually undervalue all of my creations (or so I’m told by those who perpetually overvalue them). What is good anyway? Self-satisfaction? Happy readers? Money? Fame? Movie deals? Bobble-head dolls? A living? Yeah. Yeah, for starters, a living.
I recently sent out a snippet of my prologue to a group of interested folks who have volunteered to be my accountability squad. I let four people read the entire prologue late last year, and it was the first time Sarah had read any of my proto-novel – five months in! But now more eyes are on the rough draft material. I wonder who will I believe, who has anything to say about what I’ve written? This mind discounts positive feedback from friends and family (though it’s still appreciated!) because they know me, and it discounts critical/negative feedback from those who don’t know me because…well, who are they and what do they know? It’s the writing equivalent of a Chinese fingertrap, and I, stupidly, have trapped myself.
Perhaps I simply haven’t found the faith in my work yet. But I still write. I write because some deep, dark part of me believes, and because I have no other choice. Some can hack jobs they hate for the money, but there is always a hidden cost. For me, that cost is an integral part of me. (What? You didn’t know that. There are probably lots of things you don’t know about me.)
Do you remember those nature shows where the sea turtles hatch on the beach and struggle with their little flippers toward the waves? And then they paddle out into the scary black depths, buffeted by currents and looking like hors d’oeuvres to just about everything? Maybe one in ten get off the beach, maybe one in one hundred survives the waves. Only one in one thousand reproduces.
I think about this when I’m not writing. And when I am, I’m kicking like mad at the sand.