We work in solitary conditions as writers. We sit alone with nothing but our thoughts and occasional distractions for hours on end. We have days when the writing flows like white water rapids and we can’t type fast enough; and days when it’s a dried river bed of nothing. So swings our own opinion of our writing. One day everything we write is perfection. The next, it’s nothing but roadkill.
This week was internally harsh. I forced myself to sit at The Beast to work on edits even though I lacked the motivation and drive of the last few weeks when I couldn’t be dragged away. I battled myself in a game of wits. I read books to help kick the funk but it only made it worse. I wanted to chuck every manuscript and work in progress into the shredder. Everything sucked. Why am I wasting my time?
At one point, I wanted to send the messy manuscript to a first reader just so they could tell me it was crap and I would have all the justification I needed to toss it.
Drastic? Yes. Let’s just say cosmic forces and nature aligned just right to provide me with the lovely shit storm of self-degradation.
Mercury retrograde (PMS + questionable reading material) + fatigue = crankypants needing to be talked out of scattering paper copies off the ledge
This is the dark side of writing. The side we don’t talk about because it’s a grisly a black hole sucking away our productivity.
Earlier in the week, I reminded myself of the lesson a former music director taught me when we were rehearsing for a solo. Don’t try to sing using the other singers voice. Use your own voice. Simple advice I’ve carried with through my life and more singers should follow. I remember watching an old singing competition and a woman was given an Evanescence song. Many female rockers try to emulate Amy Lee’s voice, killing themselves mentally in the process. There is only one Amy Lee who will sound like Amy Lee. Chaz wanted me to learn “My Immortal”. It’s a killer song and if I tried to be Amy Lee I would hit nothing but brick walls. But, open up with my own voice using her phrasing and tempo, and you would think I was singing like her.
Applying this to my writing is the same. We all have our own voice but it gets lost when we try to emulate other writers. I was editing with the mindset of “what should be here if someone else was writing it” rather than giving in to the characters to write what needed to fill the gaps in my own voice.
I’m looking at my work with different eyes now that I’m refocused. That means readjusting for genre. I always intended to be a general fiction writer. I never set out to work in one specific genre and I wound up putting myself in different genres because people kept asking. But those other genres aren’t me. My voice belongs in the general fiction world where I can tell the stories about interpersonal relationships I want. Where you will meet a broken Sara and her secrets and how each relationship she forms either helps her or hinders her on her journey. Where you will meet Lara, her best friend, and her love interest and how some relationships are never the same when you cross the line. Where you’ll meet Maile and Rex and how jealousy can change a person and a relationship. Where you’ll meet twins Kyra and Kyle and how the actions of one devastates the other.
Until I figured it all out, the shit storm was the devil messing with my head. Now, it’s just a stumbling block put there to help me figure out what I needed to move in the right direction for me and my voice.