Waiting. I hate waiting. I’ve been doing quite a bit of it lately. Waiting to hear back from the doctor about what my body is doing. Waiting for the right moment to try and make a baby. Waiting to see if the test comes back positive. Waiting to be ready to try again. Waiting for events at work. AND, in the world of writing, I’m currently waiting to hear back about six different pieces of writing I’ve sent off (Flash Fiction & Short Stories.)
Waiting is killer. It’s the thing that eats my brain for breakfast most days. It’s so easy to dwell on the waiting rather than “What am I doing NOW?!?” In a recent blog I talked a bit about how to get your muse back after falling off the wagon of daily writing (or having writers block) and that’s all well and good – but what about those times when you find yourself totally taken with EVERYTHING but writing? Does this mean I’m a shitastic writer and should hang up my hat? Am I’m simply too undisciplined to ever get it right and succeed professionally?
No. However, it can feel that way. Working towards my goals doesn’t always feel like progress. Thousands of words a month pile up on websites, documents and notepads, but without recognition for my efforts it can sometimes feel as though I am wasting time… time which is, perhaps, better spent elsewhere. That’s where the REAL pain of waiting comes in. In those times when you’re waiting for a reply from some publication, when you’re praying until your knees are raw that someone else will see value in your words and that there is a talent there to be appreciated… it’s THEN that the creative brain becomes a true enemy.
If you’re like me, you dream up all the worst situations. There is the one where you spend all these hours in front of a keyboard clacking away only to eventually die with nothing to show for it. You know the one – it’s also the same nightmare/daydream where your friends and family are all secretly chuckling to themselves about how “cute” your “little dream” is… or maybe it’s the one where you finally do get a check in the mail and while you feel on cloud-nine for that mere $.03 per word – everyone else is convinced that you are utterly, irredeemably mad.
I am crazy, aren’t I? Seriously. You have to be. Late nights, early mornings, those stolen moments between dinner’s end and brushing teeth and bedtime prayers — hurriedly typing away, praying that my words don’t stink more than week old raw chicken in the trash bin. Dozens of started stories, most likely never finished, hundreds of random ideas scratched out on napkins, note cards, receipts and other trash littering the desk lying all around mounting bills that I dare to hope one day might actually be paid by doing the thing I most love. No one else could make sense of it but me.
It’s arrogant. Plain and simple. It’s fucking arrogant of me to think that I will be able to one of those precious few who ever know any success at all – let alone enough success to alleviate some of my financial woes. Who am I to think that I’m better than the thousands upon thousands of others who say to themselves, “This is the year I’m going to write a book – this is the year I’m going to be published!”… but never do.
It would be easier, I suppose, to slap a cover on an old creations of mine and throw it up on Amazon and call myself an Indie author. At least then I could say I have a book out there and done. I’m sure some of my half-baked stories are worth something to someone … hell I’ve read some pretty amazingly bad novels that somehow made the author money (no names mentioned to protect the not-so-innocent.) I’ve actually had that moment which Stephan King talks about, the one where I literally put down a book (and I’ve done this many times actually) and say: “WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL?!? How did THAT get published but I’ve yet to do it?!?”
But I can’t. Partly because of some stupid definition of what professional success as a writer means to me… but also because I wasn’t raised that way. My mother use to say, “Don’t half-ass anything.” I hated it when she said that… but she’s right. I KNOW what I want and I can’t accept anything else. So I work on my craft, in spite of the madness. I work towards the promise that I’ve made myself that “I’m better than that person and if they can do it – what’s stopping me?!?”
Yes, it’s insanity. It’s not likely to make me rich, but it’s in my soul. It’s who I am. It’s not a career or a fly by night way to make money. It’s just, only now, that I have the audacity to think … just maybe… I’m that one in a million. Maybe I’m her. That person who can do what no one else can – the one with a story only I’m capable of telling.
I’m not mad. I just love myself enough now to dream. My soul isn’t broken… it’s finally healed. And so I work while I wait. I pray silently every day in thanks for my gifts and I honor that by not wasting what I am given. I tell stories for my friends at LARPs. I write stories for my blog, for my daughter, for my husband, and for myself. And yes, I have occasionally wrote them and sent them off into the world that I might one day know the utter elation and satisfaction of having the world whisper back, “You ARE a Storyteller.” and I do it because the world wants a story… and they hate waiting too.*** Picture Credit – beautiful artwork was found here: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Waiting-266427634