Fearing the story

I want to write a short story, really short, like 1,000-words short, to submit to a publication. I think I have a good idea (that’s the easy part) and I’ve even started getting the first 150-200 words done (that’s 1/5th of the story) but I’m stuck. I know where the story is going, but I’m afraid to write it.

It’s not the subject matter that scares me, it’s not even a scary story. But the idea of taking that next step – submitting – that’s hard. When I upload my Vella episodes, it’s with little expectation that anyone will read it. That’s not being negative, but a nod to the reality of the now. I don’t worry about people not liking what I’ve written. I just want some sort of feedback.

Which is why submitting this tiny little story after finishing is so scary. I may get what I really want. Then what happens? Do I feel good about it? Bad? Get better? I don’t know. I’ve submitted stories before (and been rejected) and went along with my day. There’s nothing special about this publication or this story. It’s just weird now.

I’m weird now.

I think part of the issue is that I feel the need to write in the dark, not tell my family what I’m doing, because I fear that doing so will kill what little motivation I have. (Hence the pen name. Hidden.) I really want to write this story today and the only thing stopping me is me.

I mean, even this blog post is an avoidance tactic.

I want to do it, but I feel like I’m not happy enough to do it. I’m depressed, frustrated, annoyed. I should approach my writing with enthusiasm and hope, not fear and secrecy. I have made a prison out of rules that I wrote myself.

At least I wrote something.

One more paragraph and then I’ll put on the noise-cancelling headphones and try to focus, try to get out ~1000 imperfect sentences and then tweak them into something better, shinier, something that, when I reread it, will fill me with enthusiasm and hope. Because that’s the part I always forget.

It’s the writing that makes me feel that way, not the other way around.

Ah, that’s what this blog post was for. Understood.

Nine Ways to Kill Your Writing Mojo

There are plenty of ways to motivate you to keep working, keep creating, and if you’re like me, you’ve consumed a bunch of them.

Listicles are still popular, right? Is this 2008? I am not always up on contemporary society, struggling as I am to attain the title of Eccentric Recluse without the infamy or, for that matter, the noticeable accomplishment. Yet since I’m here and since I have some experience in these matters, scoot closer to your favorite Gothic neighbor-lady and she’ll tell you a thing or two.

But don’t you think about coming up onto my porch. You just keep your butt on those steps, you hear me?

  1. Giving Yourself Unrealistic Goals: This one needs little explanation because we’ve all been there. We’ve all sat thinking about the someday when we’ll have enough time to write 5,000 words a day and have the energy to work on multiple projects at once and how we’ll be able to produce multiple titles per year. We could have written about 1,000 words during our daydreaming session. We didn’t. Someday, tho.
  2. Excusing Excessive Daydreaming as “Writing”: Sometimes it is, when you’re thinking about plot, or setting, or characters, etc. Sometimes daydreaming is just letting the story soup stew in your head, allowing the flavors to melt into one another. Those moments should count as writing. Daydreaming about that perfect traveler’s notebook that will really get your novel organized is not, however, writing.
  3. Judging the Writing Processes of Others: See what I’ve done here? Scolding myself in order to excuse my previous comment. It’s a typical rhetorical trick that is supposed to convince you that since I am self-aware, I am not a judgmental asshole, because, well, I do it too! See how that works? I zig, but I also zag. Don’t do this. Be honest and kind. But don’t spend too much time on your journal. That may not be the writing you want to share with the world.
  4. Losing Interest Halfway Through a Project: This happens to everyone. It’s happening to me right now and I’m using it to show you that it is okay to abandon something that is not working. A project that you dread coming to should be shelved. You may have fresh eyes for it in the future, or you may not. Write the project you want to write. CAVEAT: Finish your work as much as possible. If you find yourself abandoning nearly every project, perhaps you should create in a different medium for a while. Paint, sew, carve, sing, any number of ways to express yourself. Don’t let staleness stop your art.

You can figure out the rest, and the joke, from here. There are plenty of ways to motivate you to keep working, keep creating, and if you’re like me, you’ve consumed a bunch of them. But I’ll give you one more for free:

Keep creating.

What are you doing next?

I love your work. 

Did I say “next”…

Ah, the promises we make to ourselves are those we break the most. Why do we put up with ourselves, I wonder.

I did. I went back and read that. In the literal sense I’ve already blown the challenge as I stipulated that I would start on that, or the next day. Yet I’m giving myself a Mulligan, because situations outside of my control strapped me into a spiral of malaise and funk that forced me to contribute very little for the last few days. This is a typical battle, one that (thankfully) doesn’t impede the larger parts of my life, but just those smaller grottoes just for me. Perhaps it is my unwillingness to think I deserve a creative outlet. Perhaps I am merely holding back expecting some sort of backlash. Perhaps I’m just lazy. Either way, I have made it back and intend to not promise anything, but to keep the challenge ahead.

Though I will make an adjustment to the rules because they are my rules and I can change them if I want. The thirteen stories in thirteen days do not need to be consecutive, but, and this is the one added restriction that I need – they will have to be completed by September 1st, 2018.

Black and White Clocks by Andrey Grushnikov
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov from Pexels