Episode 82 – Is Everyone Laughing at Me?
As writers, we spend time mastering the techniques necessary to reroute our reader’s mental plumbing so the pipes dump their emo-juices exactly where we want. The greatest writers are true maestros, playing the whole range of feelings like an expert violinists.
And, some of us—like me—are the literary equivalent of a pop rock band. We only know four chords and that’s all we’ll ever need, dang it!
The irony of it all is our own fluid emotional states.
I don’t know about you, but mine tends to swing back and forth between narcissistic egomaniacs and hypervigilance paranoia.
See, one minute, I’ll be typing along and absolutely sure everything I’m writing is the greatest thing anyone has ever written. I’ll be so in the zone, I can’t possibly be stopped.
“I am god and you will bow to my whims!” I shout at my characters and they cower before me because they know it is true.
Then the emotional pendulum swings back across and I’m suddenly frozen in my tracks. My brain turns into a useless rock. My characters revolt and start acting like a trust fund brat in a 90s movie and the jock bully from an 80s movie got together and had a baby.
And… I know… I know everyone in the world is sitting outside my window, just beyond my curtains. They are watching. They are judging. They are laughing.
Because they know. They know I’m a charlatan. I’m a poseur. I’m a complete mockery of talent.
I’m not even fit to write for a throwaway Disney channel sitcom.
So, I hide under my desk—sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally. I hide because it is too damned hard to stand up to the imaginary gazes and scream, “BUT I WAS GOD A FEW MINUTES AGO! OBEY ME MORTALS!”
We’ve all seen how that ends. We still end up getting tossed into a volcano or blown up by a school full of homemade gunpowder.
That’s what it feels like, anyway.
It’s a steaming stew of self-loathing, suspicion, and anxiety peppered with a few minor hallucinations.
And it is always triggered by the smallest things.
My current round of ostriching came from Seven Keys Saga Book 6. I knew there was something not quite right about it when I sent it off to be read. I knew there was something I could adjust and fix. Something big.
But, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Then I got the notes back and it became very clear.
The plot somehow mutated into two different plots. It is a very common issue for pantsers, but not one I’ve had to deal with before. I’m usually too far on the other side. Too structured and rigid.
Those are the only chords I need! I don’t need your allegro espressivo!
So… I know exactly what is wrong with the manuscript and I have no idea how to fix it. I’ve tried quite a few different things. Plucking scenes out. Rewriting them. Replacing them entirely.
It’s not working.
And now, I think I’m going to have to pull out the biggest, heaviest cannon in a writer’s arsenal. I don’t want to do it. I’m worn out from the marathon of grinding out this book the first time. I’m tempted to do nothing, leave it on a shelf, and pretend like that two years of my life never existed while I continue on my merry short story journey over her.
I’m tempted and I don’t think it would be the worst decision I’ve ever made.
But… I want it out in the world. I want my handful of readers to have access to it. I want them to know that I’m not abandoning them entirely.
I hate the idea of not putting it out because it was such a slog and it was so damn hard to write.
It took a lot of time in my writing schedule and I’m afraid to switch to something new.
Because, what if I do it again?
Last year, I wanted to put the Seven Keys Saga away for a long time. I felt like I hit a good spot at the end of book 5. It was closure on an arch. No, it didn’t wrap up the world, but I don’t know that it’s a world that can be wrapped up without killing everyone off.
And I mean everyone. Global destruction of all of mankind.
So, after I published Purpose, I tried several different projects. I tried writing a space opera, which, honestly I love. I failed at it hard. Three drafts. But, I kept it because I know I want to get back to it in the future.
I tried writing a superhero-esque spy story. It barely got off the ground. This time from lack of passion for the characters or world. It just didn’t work the way I wanted and I got disillusioned and disgusted. I probably won’t be going back to that one.
And now, I’ve even failed on the book I was holding in reserve as my “easy project.” Writing this book was supposed to get me back into my flow. Give me an easy victory.
But it didn’t. I failed.
And now, I’m curled up down here in my desk-turned-blanket-fort, safe from the world. Because I am a talentless hack, after all. Everyone knows. And they are all out there, laughing.
Thank you for listening to the New Writer Podcast. I would really be thankful if you’d leave a review on iTunes, swing over the NewWriterPodcast.Com and leave me a comment, or just shoot me an email (MBrotherton@gmail.com).
I’ll be back with another episode next Saturday, so have a great weekend.
And, if you’re here in the US, enjoy your Labor Day.
Never forget the reason for the season—barbecue.
Also remember, if it doesn’t have sauce, it’s only smoked and charred meat.
I’m looking at you, everyone who is wrong in the state of Texas. Your smoked meats may be tasty, but they legally ain’t barbecue. You’ve been put on notice…