Chapter One

After 18 months, hundreds of thousands of words, one writing coach, three books about plot, four books about You’re Okay!, a prescription for medication, and countless hours telling everyone around me I don’t know how to do this, I finally bucked up and brought the first chapter of my novel to critique group. Just one chapter. After all that.

And you guys–they loved it.  They really, really, loved it.  I felt like Sally Freaking Fields sitting there, feeling how much everyone loved me. I mean it.  How much they loved it.

So then I drove home, went to bed, woke up, and realized I’m too terrified to work on the novel now. I feel like chapter one was a fluke. Chapter two is a major let-down. If I bring it to critique group, they’ll know I’m a fraud. They have no idea what a mess the rest of the book is or that if someone offered to write the book for me, I’d hand them all my notes then take off for Bora Bora and never look back.

But I fired up the laptop today anyway because it’s what I do, and I wrote a bit, and I didn’t like what I wrote at all, but then I remembered that’s how I’ve felt about my writing nearly every day of the past 18 months, and yet somehow it’s working. I wish this whole writerly life thing were easier for me, but I’ve read enough Self-Help for Authors books by now to know that crippling doubt and a sense of complete disaster is part of the writerly life. Sometimes it feels like it’s all of the writerly life. (The fact that there are so very many Self-Help Author books out there should have been a bit of a clue.) 

It’s complicated, because doing what I love the most is also the thing that frustrates me the most.

But oh, when it makes me happy—oh!

If writing were a boyfriend, you all would be telling me to GET OUT of that relationship, giiirrrrl! It’s abusive, it’s controlling, it makes me feel bad about myself, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. To which I would say, “But I love him.” I mean it! I do. Stop looking at me like that! Whatever.

The thing is, I’m nothing without my words. That’s not to say I have no value without words; it’s just that my whole being, my very soul, is all tangled up with words and it’s an eye stabbing mess, but it’s my mess and to untangle me from my words or my words from me would be to ruin us both.

So I sit here in my big tangle and try to pull out a long, lovely piece of yarn to share with you.  Maybe some day the tangle will be all straightened out and I can book that ticket to Bora Bora.

But I sure as hell hope not.

Florentine Frittata
Garlic beans
Reese’s PB cup cookies

(I wrote this blog post to take a break from writing. I guess that says something about me—that I fill my writing breaks with writing.)

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