“Can we please swing by Borders before going to pick up the kids?” I begged M at the end of our date tonight. “I’m in no hurry to go back to being mommy.”
Usually when I walk into a bookstore, any bookstore, as soon as the door closes I feel the peace of the place wrap me up and comfort me. Tonight the shiny new books didn’t work their usual magic. Instead they filled me with even more angst.
I walked past the New Fiction table and the Best Seller shelf and trailed my fingers along the shiny embossed covers and didn’t feel an ounce of curiosity. I didn’t pick up any enticing tomes to read the back covers. None of them were enticing. Not the ones in that store, not the ones on my night table, not any of the ones on my extensive wishlist. Instead of calling to me all of those books scream a silent reproach.
All these authors sat down and wrote their book. They had the guts to face the white page. They had the whatever it takes to keep writing past the first 20 pages.
I don’t have one book in process. I have three. Yes three. Not because I have so many stories itching to get out, I mean, clearly I do, but that’s not the issue here. No, it’s because I start writing and I get wind of the fact that what I’m writing is good, really, really good. And I freak out and never open the file again. Instead I open another document and start a new story and do my best to ignore the first story calling to me, begging to be written.
I’ve tried forcing myself to write. I’ve tried figuring out what my problem might be. And yet my books languish in the depths of my Documents folder. And my stress level rises as I feel my dream slip away. And I can’t stop it. And it’s killing me. And I should stop starting all my sentences with and.
I want nothing more than to finish these stories, find an agent, get them published, and finally be able to say “See? I told you I was better than half those writers out there!” or some slightly less obnoxious version of that. I want to give voice to my characters and see what scrapes they get themselves into and back out of again. I really do want to finish a book. I just can’t figure out how to do it.
My rational brain will tell you that novel writing isn’t going to put dinner on the table next week. It’ll tell you that I’m doing the right thing by focusing on freelancing and getting paying work. It’ll even tell you that everything I spend my days doing are worthwhile and good.
And it’ll be right. In the same way that procrastinating on a deadline to clean the house is worthwhile and good.
I’m great at making up excuses, at finding other things I absolutely need to be doing. It’s not like I sit around all day watching TV and surfing YouTube. I’m busy, all day, every day. I work my butt off. My to do list is pages long. But I’m not working on the things that really matter to me. Clearly that’s a problem.
So how do I change that? How do I hold myself accountable? What’s going to make me write my books?
My father-in-law is doing even better today than yesterday. He’s kicking some serious meningitis butt and winning. WHOOT!