Room at the Table

So I am sitting here, 28 years old, turning 29 this year, and I have been trying to finish a book since I was, I dunno, 16? 17? And still. Haven’t succeeded.

I’ve written stories here and there, Maybe three or four? Class projects and a couple of contest entries.

Now, to some of my readers, this is just a sign of my constant growing, a sign of me following the normal way of things. My mentors and other writers have told me that I’m doing what I need to be doing. But I don’t always FEEL that way. I don’t feel like I’m improving, I feel frustrated. Not about my actions in the last four months, but just the last several years. I feel like I have wasted all this time in my life, years that I could have been achieving my dreams and goals. The time has passed and I didn’t put in that work. And now, here I am, almost 30 and I still wonder if I’m ever going to do it, or if, just like all the other times, I’ll fizzle out and fall down one more time.

Yet, underneath it all, is a deeper terror.

The fear of success.

I’m afraid that once I finally write my book(s), when I finally get good enough to join the table, the writers I want to be around, won’t have room. I’m afraid that when I finally put myself forward, there won’t be a place for me. What I put out will have been done before and better by other people. I’ve read a theory that we can only meet about 150 people at a time and once that quota has been met, that’s it. Too bad for you, you’ll never get to be the peers of the people you admire.

Then, there is the nagging worry that if I DO manage to publish and get my stories out, I’ll never have people who want to listen or read about the worlds I create and the people who I birthed in my head.

These fears? These worries? They’re ridiculous. Intellectually I know this. If this were true then we’d have stopped caring about literature after our first books came out in the days of the past. It’s not true because people are evolving and changing and they hunger for stories to change and evolve with them. There is plenty of room in the world for new stories and I know that I’m worth listening to because why else would I pop words in this space every three to five days? But there is an inevitable narssicm to being an artist of any type. If you’re a singer, you must trust that you are worth listening to. If you are a painter, you must put that work in daily and just accept that it must exist. Dancers and actors and video game developers…creators of all kinds. We must believe within ourselves that what we do and say has meaning, that we can be another voice in the sea and be heard.

Still, knowing all that, I’ve been struck by this fear, this idea that I might not be putting out anything worthwhile and I cope.

I cope by doing the following:
I write.
I write the characters.
I bury myself in the story.
I sketch out scenes.
I re-examine my outlines.
I skim pictures of potential cover ideas.
I write some more.
I skim pictures of places I’ve never been but am putting in my book
And then…I write some more.

I sit and I write and I work and I craft because while I might be scared of not being good enough, I might as well be scared while I’m learning how to get there instead of sitting still and being miserable.

If you feel like this, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you friend.