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I have imaginary friends. They have conversations in my head. Then I write it down.


I want everybody to read what I've written, but the thought of anybody actually reading it scares the crap out of me.

I want to see my novel, with my name on the cover, in stores, in people's hands, in their backpacks, on the coffee table beside a pair of glasses. But telling anybody that I am a writer is totally embarrassing. I squirm with discomfort just thinking about it.

I can withdraw into my brain-world for hours. It's really interesting in there. Frightening sometimes.

I write query letters, then I rewrite them, then I cut half of it and rearrange what's left. I worry and fret that it's not good enough. I mash my lips together and press my knuckles into my temples as I read the query that will never get anywhere. I study different websites for advice on how to write a good query. Then I have to rewrite.

I send the query off to my writer's group, we go back and forth with suggestions and improvements, and you know what I do then? I rewrite it.

Anybody know the definition of insanity?

I send those queries off to agents, fully aware that there is little chance I'll get a reply, let alone a request. I put my battered self-esteem on the line again and again.

Every time there's an email my heart speeds up, then crashes with disappointment when it's a rejection.

On the rare occasion that the reply is not a rejection, I fall in love with the person who wants to see the rest of my book. I love him/her. She is the best agent, no, the best human being, in the world. He gets me, man, he understands where this is all coming from and he's the perfect guy to make it happen. She is so smart. He is so friendly.

When it turns out to be a rejection, well, turns out she's not perfect, or smart. She can't be that smart if she didn't end up loving my novel, right? And he's way out there, he is clueless because he just doesn't get it.

But if either of them contacted me I would throw myself into their metaphorical arms.

I just want to be loved.

I want you to hate my book and tell everybody how much you hate it so that it gets banned from high schools and people burn piles of it in the streets, and people cover their iPads and Kindles with one hand while they read it so that nobody else can see. I want you to hate it so much you have to buy another copy to read, just to make sure you really hated it as much as you remember hating it. I want you to write letters to magazines about all the reasons you hated my book.

And I want reporters to come to my little home in the sticks and interview me about the book everybody hates (and some love) to find out what it's all about and why, all to which I'll be coy and speak in riddles so that nobody can figure out really what my infuriating book is supposed to be doing, and as a result they need to read my next book too.

I'll decline every interview and refuse to have an author photo taken.

I'll tell myself it's irrelevant because it's never gonna happen anyways.

I dream of sitting at a table surrounded by my book with a pen in my hand, smiling, signing my novel for those who paid for it and are excited to read it. Then I think the whole scene would make me run away screaming and maybe even gagging.

I cry about things that never actually happened in real life.

I think about funny things said by a person who doesn't exist, and I giggle out loud.

I am both proud of what I've written, and convinced it's total garbage.

I love to write and I friggen hate it.

I suspect I might be kind of brilliant but I am sure that I'm flaky and cheesy.

I don't remember driving to the store because I was too busy figuring out that nasty little plot twist. I can't believe I didn't see that coming. That'll be a surprise. Nobody expected THAT to happen. Mwa ha ha. (Why am I standing in front my truck staring at my keys?)

On a regular basis, sometimes daily, I will resign myself to the fact that I may never achieve my goals. Chances are, my novel will never be on a bookstore shelf or a bookstore website. I resentfully accept that. I die a little inside. Then I find that pebble of resistance in the rubble pile of pessimism. I am a good writer, dammit! I can do this! I cheerlead myself back into it again even though I still know I will likely be disappointed.

I have this bizarre idea that I could possibly make a meagre living at this, despite statistics proving that financially successful authors are the exception and that we hear about them because of their rarity. I admit that I will keep writing while it doesn't pay me a thing. I know it's stupid. I can't help it. I have to keep writing.

If I don't write, I feel unhinged and pent-up and jittery. When I am on a hot streak, I forget to eat. I forget my name.

I want you to tell me how great my writing is.

And when you do, I'll be convinced that you mean well, but you're really just being nice and it's not great work. Or I'll think maybe you were tired when you read it and you couldn't possibly have recognized how weak it is.

Or worse, I might wonder if I didn't read or hear your compliments correctly. My own insecurities about my talent and skill might completely distort everything you say about what I wrote.

I am an extroverted introvert. I'm also an introverted extrovert. I don't want to work in public. I want to hole up in my room with my computer, tapping out words. I don't want to leave the farm, ever, but I know books need promoting, and that means being out there in the world, and it intimidates me.

I want to write. I want to make stuff up. I want to tell beautiful lies. I want to pretend.

I'm emotional, imaginative, reactive, irrational. I insist on continuing an activity that makes me alternately euphoric and despondent.

And you know why all this stuff is going on?

Because I am a fiction writer, I live part of my life in a fictional world of my own creation, I have an observant arm's length relationship with reality, and I am absolutely freaking crazy.


5 Comments:

  1. Heidi Willis said...
    This is exactly how I feel (except maybe the part about people hating my books, LOL). You said it all beautifully.

    What a conundrum we are, eh? I used to think I was the only one, then I thought every writer was like this. Now I think it's just some of us, and I'm okay with that.

    Keep pounding on the keys, Heidi, because I think it's true that what you write is brilliant and special and gorgeous, and someday someone who has power will see that.
    Heidi the Hick said...
    We are real speshul aren't we? Conundrum !!!

    I will keep pounding out the words. It's part of The Crazy.

    (thank you!!)
    Erin Halm said...
    Heidi,

    Brilliantly said!! Yes, keep pounding the keys and stay crazy. We love you like that, and we love your writing!
    Overdue said...
    Have you been peeking inside my head? It's freaking uncanny how much that sounds like me.
    Overdue said...
    Hi, I hope you don't mind but I've included you on a writing related tag on my blog. Hope you'll come check it out!
    Emily

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