One of the first things I do each morning is check the blogs of my friends and acquaintances (well, the ones who provide a proper RSS feed and whose blogs show up on my bloglines). How the hell are they doing? Are they sad? Are they curious? Are they angry? Are they energized? Are they confused? Are they happy? Did they say some funny ass shit? I leave comments when I can, cuz there is nothing lonelier in the blogosphere than a heartfelt post with no comments. Um, that’s worse than an echo, because a post with no comments has NO echo whatsoever (right?).
One of my friends is disheartened, in particular about her writing and the progress of her novel. It was hard for me to read her post, because what writer doesn’t feel that way? (And the ones who say they have NO problems, and never revise, are probably
lying not being straightforward or have a veracity issue amnesia about what it’s really like to write or want to psyche you out). I mean, I’m a bit stuck myself these days. I have a draft of my thesis/novel due on Monday and here I am blogging, and distracting myself in a dozen other ways from actually writing my novel.
And when this starts happening (when my momentum stops), the self-beration and self-doubt start creeping in. I start remembering all the discouraging remarks everyone’s ever said to me. I forget about one of my writing instructor/profs who told me, “You should apply for a Stegner fellowship.” (Hello? Only the best writers EVER are in that program–I nearly peed my pants when he suggested I apply). Instead, I remember the OTHER writing instructor/prof who told me, “You’re applying for a Stegner? You know, even I didn’t get in. I wonder why I didn’t get in.”
I lamely replied to her, “You probably were too good for it.” (Seriously, she is the shit). Her words have pierced my psyche, though. Who the hell am I to apply for a Stegner? Of course, I have to stop myself before I become really boring and become a failed, self-doubting writer.
So what can we do to get ourselves over the hump? How to keep on writing? How to get over our own self-beration?
I practice my Pulitzer Award acceptance speech. I visualize depositing the advance for my first novel. I visualize the big FAT stack of 8.5 x 11 inch white paper that is my FINISHED novel. I practice writing my autograph. I visualize seeing my book on the bookshelf at the bookstore. I practice talking to admiring fans.
I have to be THAT drastic. Because drastic situations call for drastic measures. And it doesn’t matter so much if other people believe in you–you have to believe in yourself. And like smiling, you might have to fake it at first, but eventually you’ll end up smiling for real. So I pretend-believe. Eventually, I end up believing for real.