Writing about my feelings is easy. It’s super easy to say “this is how I feel,” I’ve never had a problem expressing my emotions, but training myself to write about the emotions of others is very difficult for me. I am talking about fiction writing.
It’s difficult because there is without a doubt, a certain God complex that comes from writing fiction. First of all there is this “who the fuck do you think you are?” identity crisis that comes out whenever I try to write fiction. I know that I can do it, but the prospect of learning to do it well scares me.
Look we all know I am a decent writer, on my better days I am a fucking phenomenal writer, but on my bad days I’m decent. The idea of trying to write fiction like the masters, JD Robb, Kim Harrison, or even Steven King, scares the crap out of me.
Largely because I know that there are a lot of mediocre writers out there who write decently enough to get published and end up making millions (Gone Girl!), and I am terrified that I am going to be one of those mediocre ones. I don’t want to be mediocre, I want to be a legend.
I am in my own mind, but that’s not good enough, I want more, I want to see the world, and I want to be able to say that I saw the world specifically because I am a great writer. I want greatness damnit. Which means sucking up my ego and taking a writer’s workshop so that I can learn how to become a better writer.
It’s scary though, because it means having people give you specifics about where you stand when you are writing, and that’s uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to release a piece of writing and to be told “eh, this could be much better if you just tweaked all the things that you think that makes it great.“
Yesterday I had a migraine, the kind of migraine that had me screaming for about forty-five minutes without release, the only reason I stopped screaming was because I decided to go to the clinic to get help…and then the hospital because the clinic was too full, and then home, and then to another clinic because I was impatient.
I finally did get the help I needed, but the point is that when I wrote a piece for my writing group today, I used it as inspiration. Specifically because it worked for the piece that I was writing, and that’s the part that scares me. I know that given what I wrote, I am genuinely on to something, and if I do it properly I could take it to the next step and turn it into a novel, and that’s where I get scared.
Because once you write the novel then you have to shop the novel, and then once you shop the novel if you sell it, you have to market it, and once you market it people are going to start buying it, and then they are going to start commenting on it, and then they are going to tell you how they feel about it, and then it’s no longer yours.
I don’t like sharing my non-fiction work with people, because it feels like I am putting this thing that I created into the world, and then there is the expectation that I finish the damned thing. A lot of writers will tell you they have hundreds of half filled notebooks, books that have half stories, or notes, but no real finished project.
It’s because we abandon the idea, or because the idea we know might be good, but isn’t for us to write. We put it down until we can find a place for it, but sometimes it never sees the light of day. I have a box filled with note books half full of of semi-formed ideas for books that I thought I’d write one day. Most of them were written as I was in the process of losing my mind, during the time I call the dark days.
So I find them hard to look at because they remind me of things that I don’t want to remember, because once I start reading them I start remembering what I was thinking and feeling when I wrote them, and why I was feeling what I was feeling…and then I am triggered into bouts of depression that come from remembering the night when I thought Angels were going to come and save me.
I know now that during all the times that I was being raped, I would make up stories in my head about what was happening so I didn’t have to focus on what was actually happening, and knowing that, I recognize it sounds crazy. But it was my coping mechanism, which isn’t so crazy at all when you think about it.
When I look back to those times I am reminded that I would tell myself stories about what was happening, and that blurred the lines of reality and fiction for me, made it easier to deal. But it also means that when I go into writing fiction “mode”, I get triggered.
Today I tried to write about what my character looked like naked, because she was sitting on a nude beach, just because that’s where I wanted the setting to be, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be bothered to describe her body, because first of all I think it would have been gratuitous as hell, and partially because it was unnecessary, but more importantly because it was uncomfortable.
I was uncomfortable writing the entire scene, because it made me think about how I react when errant thoughts come into my head – and while they can’t be called “psychic visions,” it was uncomfortable being vulnerable.
Writing fiction makes me feel vulnerable because I am not as good at writing fiction as I am writing about my feelings, which is precisely why I want to do it. If you aren’t uncomfortable, are you even living?
Writers are writers because they like to take risks with their writing, they like to create worlds that exist outside of their reality because at our core writers need a sense of control. If we can’t control our partners, our life, our children, our experience, then we can control what gets put down on the fucking page, and damnit that feeling is addictive.
There is so much about my life that I don’t share, but I know that the things that I don’t talk about here, are constant and consistent themes throughout my fiction work. Which is why it’s so rare for me to sit down and pen a fiction piece.
Fiction opens up my dreams – rips them open actually – and puts parts of myself on the page that I am totally not comfortable with.
The thing is, if you want something, you have to actually do the work to get it. It’s not enough to say “I want to be a Writer”, you have to decide that you’re actually going to do something about it. In this case, that means going to my writing class every morning at an hour of the morning that only Doctors, or armed Soldiers should have to put up with, because the ass crack of dawn is evil shit.
It means doing the writing assignments, and not hiding behind the excuse of “it’s hard,” if it were easy everyone would do it, and frankly it is offensive to me that the writer of Gone Girl has a published novel out there and I do not.
Because I know damned well that no matter what I write, my audience won’t be screaming “GIVE ME BACK MY LIFE” and no, that is not a Gilmore Girl’s reference, and yes GG is fucking literary brilliance, and I am glad that it was on the television screen and not in a book. Because if it had been in a book I would have cried more.
So rather than continuing to procrastinate by writing further about how much writing scares the shit out of me, I am going to actually go and write something, and no it probably won’t be fiction, but it will be something great.
Because at the end of the day, writing is what saved my life, and I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t craft really amazing, throughout completely bat crap insane stories. So maybe it is time to start sharing that part of my – self – with the world.
Dear God, I’m not ready.
Dear Devon, too bad.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall