I Lived My Life Wrong

I’m kind of a coward, so I don’t often fail at things. In my whole life, I either did things I knew I was good at or I didn’t care about being good at or I didn’t do them. I really wanted to play football in high school, for instance, but when people told me I was going to suck at it, I believed them. And, you know, as a coward, I would have sucked at football.

But the school I finished high school at? Their team hadn’t won a game–not a single game–in decades. I would not have sucked worse than that! (Though I should say that, in the two years I was there, they did win some games and conducted themselves in a pleasantly mediocre manner on the field.)

Anyway, I don’t really regret not playing football. I’m just saying, I’m not someone who puts themselves on the line about things she might not be good at.

So this whole fiction writing thing just fucking sucks. I have to do it. Nothing at all makes me happier (except my dog and she’s been eating the cat poop lately and giving herself the shits). I feel like I have the brains and credentials to say “Yep, this sucks. Here’s how it should be better.” or “No, hey, this is really good. Someone will want it.”

But I don’t.

And the weird part is that it’s not even depressing. Like two years ago, it was kind of depressing. Now it’s just like “Well, on to the next thing.” Because there is no choice.

And the other thing is that I probably do have to suck for a while–possibly a long while–but I am not sure I’ll ever know when or if I stop sucking.

It’s just fucking ludicrous. I do this thing I love with no clue as to whether I’m good at it in any marketable way, no idea how to improve that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars and involve taking massive amounts of time off work that I just can’t do, at least, not for four or five more years.

And yet, I keep on keeping on. Just because I like it. Even though I suspect I suck at it.

Anyway, “Allendale” revisions. I have a rough draft of the revised part–the footnotes. I guess it’s not ruining it to tell you. The footnotes are written by poor George’s niece who has just discovered that he’s not in prison for Elias’s murder, but in a secure hospital, where she can go visit him. He was unable to aid in his defense because he believes his “life” since the night of Elias’s death is actually just an illusion implanted in him by the werewolf as it kills him in the basement alongside Elias, to keep him calm. His niece mostly believes he is a killer. And then he’s a ghost, the end.

Is it any good? Who the fuck knows?

Lord. What if “Frank” is the best thing I ever do?

Well, I guess that’s not such a bad thing.

And, really, it’s not even that I think I suck. I guess if I am honest, I think I write really well, things I enjoy reading. I struggle with figuring out how to improve things. I’m pretty terrible at that.

But the thing I suck at–and this is an objective sucking–is figuring out how to sell them. I don’t know what kind of writer I am. I don’t know how to look at a story and say “Yep, fantasy” or “this is horror.” I don’t know how, even when I read widely–and I read widely–which markets might want which of my stories.

And I don’t know how to feel assured, if they turn me down, that it’s because it just didn’t fit and not because the story needed something a little more.

I suck at the match game aspect of it. But since I don’t know how to improve at that, I fret over my work, like that’s the problem.

Everything’s a fucking knot, I tell you. This anxiety tangled with that anxiety wrapped around this fear. Trying to keep everything smoothed out so that you can work with it is the hardest part.

6 thoughts on “I Lived My Life Wrong

  1. I suck at the same thing you suck at–knowing how to sell what I write, plus the added sneaking suspicion that what I am writing is not, at the moment, particularly marketable (or maybe I don’t know how to find the right markets? In which case, no, I just suck at this selling my work thing).

  2. I want to write a longer post, riffing off some of the things you’ve said, but this really resonates with me. I have no idea when a piece of writing is actually finished, let alone how to market it.

  3. I just want to thank you guys for your responses. It really makes me feel better to know that this isn’t just some deficit in me, but an actual problem people have trouble figuring out. How do you know it’s done? How do you know where it should go?

    I hadn’t even considered the “What if it’s awesome, it’s just not what people are buying,” aspect.

    I find this part to be really, really hard. I’m really glad I’m not alone.

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