Thursday, January 3, 2019

Writing With Anxiety

I'm having some intrusive thoughts this morning. Honestly, I was thinking...I should probably let this one pass without comment. Like always. Like no one wants to hear about it. It might be useful, though, to somebody, and it's real, and that makes it worth saying.

So, you guys know the drill. I'm about to start talking about mental health. This blog entry isn't gonna be all positive and while I'm going to try to keep it from being a big ole ventblog,  there will be feelings. If that grosses you out or you just don't want to, don't click.

Everybody gets imposter syndrome. Everybody, once in a while, has a moment where they'll look back on something they've done or didn't do and it just sits like a weight on their chest. It's paralyzing. This self-doubt thing kind of sucks.

It's that little voice in the back of your head that goes 'you're not good at this'. Except it's in your own head so it's not just saying 'you're not good at this', it goes really specific with it.

"You know that thing you wrote eight years ago? You remember that one scene with the dog? It's cute that you thought dogs acted like that. Somebody's going to read that and realize you're a hack you know."

"That friend you think didn't read your book probably did and didn't make any comments about it to you because they hated it. You know they wouldn't have been honest. They just couldn't think of anything nice to say."

"Hey, remember that inconsistency from four books ago? Let's spend the next three hours thinking about that and how you haven't edited it out yet."

I haven't actually talked to anyone about this. The truth is, I haven't done it because there's a part of me that's worried this isn't normal and I'm going to come off as being incredibly neurotic. But you know what? I bet it is. I bet this happens to everyone with the audacity to put their work out there.

And yeah. "You're not good at this" is part of it.

I don't have answers. I'm not sure how to push that aside. My close friends and I have this thing where we'll manifest our individual anxious tendencies as a person. LynZ calls hers "Karen", and Karen is a massive bitch. We dis Karen a lot because she's just mean.

Mine is a little more timid. I call her Yulie. She might end up in a book eventually.

Usually my intrusive thoughts are like, "what if something bad happens"...and I just have to reassure her that it won't. Because Yulie isn't a bad person. she's not mean, she's just worried. And when I take a step back and think of it as someone else doing my worrying it's easier for me to think of what to say and be less consumed by it.

"It won't, Yulie."

"But what if it does?"

"If it does we move forward. We're doing our best. That's all you can reasonably expect from anyone. Here, here's something interesting for you to tinker with to get your mind off of it."

Moving on to working on a different project helps, sometimes, after all.

Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it hits while I'm trying to go to bed and no amount of negotiation or logic helps. Sometimes I end up in tears and I think, 'I know so many people that have this so much worse than I do, at least I can get the words down'. But isn't that kind of dangerous, too?

I'm not a big deal. Not yet. I have 15 people that consistently read this blog. Those 15 people? You guys? You're the best. As long as I've got you, I'll keep writing it. If there is one person that keeps reading this blog, I'll keep writing it for that one person.

I have eight people that I know are keeping up with my books and always get back to me about them. Nine. Ten. ...damn, eleven if I count my husband. And honestly? I know most of those aren't the same ones reading my blog. So I must be doing something okay, the evidence is there.

"At least a couple of them are probably laughing at us," Yulie tells me, doubtfully.

Unspoken between us is the uncomfortable thought that one of them might be someone I dearly hope doesn't find me.

I brush it off and hand her something else to chip away at. Yeah, I'm anxious. Yeah, I'm kind of scared.

Courage isn't the same as fearlessness.

And if all I'm showing you is perceived fearlessness, what does that say about other people who are just as scared and nervous about all of this as I am? The ones who think it's a dysfunction of theirs that they even feel it because all they're seeing from anybody else is their successes?

Fuck that, man.

My dear 15 readers, I want to give you better than the pretty lie.

So, there are the nerves. There are the doubts. There is the lingering 'I might not be good enough'.

But I'm good enough for you. And I'm always getting better and that's good enough for me.

Fortune Favors,
Megan R. Miller

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