It’s been one of those weeks.
I spent last weekend in Ohio with a bunch of awesome Alphans, and I came home full of determination. This week, I would finally finish Great Expectations. I would work on my Fulbright application. I would sure up my outline for my World War II Italy project. I would get back on track editing my middle grade small child wizard novel.
And for most of this week, I’ve felt like none of that was happening. I was still flailing around hopelessly inside Great Expectations with no ending in sight. My idea for my World War II Italy project still seemed too big. On Wednesday someone made a pretty confidence-damaging comment about my writing to me and then apologized by saying that writing is subjective. The middle grade small child wizard novel is still twice as big as it has any right to be. The Fulbright application page keeps crashing my computer. And on top of all of that, Mopsy has an ear infection and I think she’s plotting to take over my blog, and I’m having stress dreams where I’m in the middle of World War II with only my new hot pink stapler as protection.
Despite all of this, by last night, I somehow managed to complete everything on my Fulbright application except the essays, and I’ve talked through my World War II Italy problems. Just achieving that much gave me the confidence in myself to look at the big picture again. I am doing a zillion things this summer: working my way through two massive book lists, applying for a Fulbright to teach in Italy after I graduate, studying for the GRE and looking at graduate schools, writing one novel, editing another novel, and starting a third novel. If I’m going to get through all this stuff this summer, I have to do a little of everything every day. So yeah, most of the time it feels like I’m going nowhere, but it’s not true.
I can do this, and I will do this.
So I’m having trouble with Charles Dickens. So what? It will get done.
So I’m not making any progress editing the small child wizard novel. All right. I’m going to do Camp NaNoWriMo and devote one hour every day to editing in the month of July. That will get done too.
I’ll take Mopsy to the vet and get her ears fixed up, and… I honestly don’t know what to do about the stapler dreams.
I will keep going. And if a little voice in the back of my head is telling me that this time last year, I was already finishing my study abroad program and I’d already read fifteen books, then I’m going to tell that little voice to shut up, because those books were not Beowulf or Great Expectations.
As for the confidence damaging comment about my writing…
No, I have not published a short story. No, I have not finished a novel that I want to get published yet. Maybe I have 116 rejection letters and nothing to show for it. And maybe right now the chances of me making it onto the New York Times bestseller list are next to zero. Yes, there are writers out there who write faster than me and better than me and who are published because they deserve to be. Heck, there are writers out there who are worse than me, and they’re published too. And yes, that can get pretty discouraging sometimes.
But honestly, that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because I can’t not write. I’m writing because there are stories inside me that are burning to come out, and there’s nothing else I can do.
A friend wrote in this post that this is how things work:
1. Write things.
2. Finish things.
3. Make each new thing better than the thing that came before it.
4. Try to publish your work, in one of a zillion ways that have been thoroughly covered elsewhere.
5. As long as steps 1-3 are making you happy, or at least speaking to a part of you that can’t be fulfilled in any other way, do not under any circumstances give up.
So I will not give up. Because I can’t live without steps one through three, and I believe that one day, it will happen, and I will be published. And right now, that’s all I need to keep going.
(Title Quote: “I Have Confidence”)