The Rest Is Still Unwritten

Feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment, and as a writer, that’s a dangerous state to be in. (Not the good kind of dangerous, either.) If I start thinking about how I should turn off Law & Order: SVU and go close myself in the study to write, I start feeling guilty for not doing exactly that. If I start thinking about all the work I have to do on Bailey’s story, all the revisions I have to do and the plot points I haven’t even hit yet, it starts to feel like it’s too big. Like I can’t tell the story; like I don’t have it in me to do so. When the truth is, I know I’m the only one who can. It’s the same for everything else I write, too, and all the things I want to finish, including the things I haven’t even started. And, thinking about all of them, it feels like there are too many and I will drown in these worlds I want to swim in.

It’s scary. Terrifying, even, because then I can think about what comes next. Finishing? Revising? Publishing? I’ve only just scratched the surface of this path I want to walk for my life, and suddenly it feels too long, too winding, with not enough reward to justify my going this way. (I know it’s not about the reward; the reward should be the art itself. But the world doesn’t account for it the same way the artist does.)

So then you can say, “It doesn’t matter what the world says. It’s what you say.” The same words I say to other people. But giving advice is often much easier than taking it, even when it’s your own. Yes; I know it is what I say to myself that matters, more than what anybody else says to me. But no matter what I say, if I feel scared, if I feel overwhelmed—what am I supposed to do?



I guess I’m supposed to publish this, and then go write the next thing.

Hopes + Dreams + Fears

Recently, I spent a Saturday evening in Houston for a small reunion with some of the people that I went to Mississippi with last Spring Break for Artists & Their Regions. Naturally all 16 people did not make it, but Lynda was hosting, and Samantha, Cristina, Jasmin, Santiago, and I were there, and it was a delicious few hours—in terms of food and company.

In typical group bonding fashion, we went around the table to say a hope, a dream, and a fear that we have, for the new year or just at present. Since at least three out of six of us are on track to graduate in May—I am one of those—most of the answers revolved around getting jobs. Aside from that, I know that a hope I mentioned for the new year is to write every day. Sam asked about my blog, and suggested that I try to do more with it—which I would like to do, and hence, the makeover. I like it a lot more now. (I hope you like it, too.)

Maybe it’s technically early, but to jump off that, I’ll go ahead and pen a couple of New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Write every day.
  2. Read one non-school book per week. (I’m likely to fail at this one.)
  3. Honestly acknowledge whether I do fail, and start again from there.
  4. Remember that it’s okay to fail.

A fear, though, is failure. For me, a fear is always failure. Used to be that I would be afraid of failing a math test—a fear that started in middle school and lingered throughout high school. Then, it graduated (pardon the pun) to other tests, other school subjects, and I think the reason why it was always so school-centric was because that was always the biggest thing going on in my life. My parents always encouraged me to do well, and I was always a straight A or an A and B (math) student, but somewhere along the way I got it into my head that if my best didn’t earn me an A, then, no matter how well I did do, it was not good enough. I think I’ve finally recovered from that this semester. But there are bigger fears now. Fear of not getting a job. Not being successful. Not being able to support myself. Sum that up, and it looks like “fear of failing at life” (even though that’s not what life’s really about, and I know that).

I read two articles a couple of weeks ago about freelance writing and creativity in our world today, and essentially, what I gathered from that is that I have food stamps and time poverty to look forward to. That won’t necessarily be the case (don’t worry, Mom), but it is a possibility in the sense that everything is always a possibility. Honestly, I think the one of these that I should be more worried about is the second, because already, as a college student, there are so many times (days? weeks, months…) where I feel too busy to be creative. And I’ll reiterate that that can be just an excuse, and it is not an excuse I’m currently trying to make. A professor I had last Spring pointed out that sometimes being a writer means that you may have to give things up. It might mean you get less sleep, or not enough sleep, as the case may be. As much as I’d like to have it in me to give up some of my sleep in order to write—and I think I actually get too much sleep, at least on weekends, so I definitely could spare some—I’ve been so bad about that, and I wish I could be better. As it is, I often feel starved for time. Or maybe lately I feel starved for creativity, and taking care of myself, and need to step away to replenish the creative well. Of course, I have a writing workshop coming up the first weekend of January, so I’d better refill that well quickly so that I can actually have something to workshop.

At the top of my list of 100 dreams is “creativity” and “write a novel” and “publish a novel” and “write another.” Ask anybody who knows me: those have always been my dreams. My hope is that I’ll make it happen, and that I’ll live creatively. But—as Matt Groening says:

Living creatively doesn’t mean only artistic creativity.
It means being yourself.


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