I hadn’t planned on doing this. Quite the opposite, really.
When I created this blog, I told myself I would keep my reading and writing life separate. It’s best to focus on one thing. Don’t try to do everything. Do one thing and do it well, and you’ll attract a large audience. That’s what some of the most popular and successful blogs said, and who was I to ignore their advice? I’m just a newbie. A no one. I have no idea what I’m doing ninety percent of the time.
But I hit a wall today. I wanted to write, to publish a new post, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write. There was something there, simmering in the back of my mind, but I ignored it as I looked up popular book blogging topics. None of them sounded particularly interesting to me today. Of course they didn’t, because there was something I wanted to write. I just hadn’t allowed myself to do so.
That’s when it hit me.
What am I doing? Why am I not writing about what I want to write?
Is this not my blog? Am I not in charge?
Yes, this is my blog and yes, I am in charge. Thinking about it in this way helped me realize I was being completely ridiculous. If I wanted to write about something, I should just do it.
No second-guessing. No overthinking. Write what you want. Edit it. Throw it out into the world.
Don’t hold back.
So that’s exactly what I’m going to do from now on. Starting today.
What I really want to talk about today is writing. The act of writing. The process of writing a book. Whatever you want to call it.
If anything, I want to say it’s hard. Really hard. It’s a constant struggle.
I’ve been working on the same project – a YA contemporary novel for those of you who are curious – on and off for almost three years now. In those three years, I’ve written and edited. Written and edited. Edited some more. Edited it again. Edited it “one more time” only to start over once more.
I’m currently working on Draft 9. In my head, this was the “final” draft, but I’ve once again discovered that I’ll be needing another round of edits. And while I want to improve my writing and get my novel into the best shape it can possible be, it’s getting harder and harder. I’m starting to feel like it will never end. Like I will never reach a point where I’m proud of what I’ve done and can send it off to literary agents.
If you’re a writer, I’m sure you know the feeling. I’m sure you can sympathize with the feeling that your book is “not quite there yet” even though you have absolutely no idea what it will take to get your book to that point.
Yes, I still enjoy spending time with the characters and improving my story. Yes, I enjoy looking back at previous drafts and discovering that my writing has improved dramatically. Yes, I still enjoy writing.
But, no, it’s not say. It’s a lot of hard work, and I want people to know that. I want them to know it takes time and effort to write, whether it’s a blog post, a poem, a song, a novel or something else.
It’s not easy because writing means bearing your soul, even just a little. And that scares me sometimes. It scares me to think that at some point I will be finished and I will send my work off to be judged. And if my writing is being judged, I am, too. I know you’re supposed to separate yourself from your writing, but everyone who’s written something meaningful (to them) will know that’s essentially impossible.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t want to talk about writing on this blog. My writing is so deeply personal I feared I would be judged for it, and I couldn’t stand that thought. I’d rather have no one see it than show it to the world and have it torn to the ground. But then I read this:
Writing is a way of sharing our humanity – William McIlvanney
And then I finally understood: writing isn’t just about me. It’s about all of us. Deep down, I’ve always wanted to write to be able to share what I’ve learned, the mistakes I’ve made, the things I don’t understand, the thoughts in my head. I’ve always craved that connection between writer and reader. The connection through which we share our humanity.
That is the goal.
To get there, I must keep writing.
To get there, I must not be afraid.
So I won’t be anymore.