That Time I Freaked Myself Out And Stopped Writing

So as I was saying, my brain has two settings for getting things done: on and off. That’s a good thing when there’s work to be done and time to do it in, but a bad thing when that time gets cut down a bit.

Not sure WTF I mean? Let me explain.

Last year, toward the end of summer, I started getting a little sketched out about the future. I know you can relate. Everybody gets a case of the “what-if’s” every now and then. What-if I fail? What if I get canned from my job? What if machines become self-aware and humanity is forced to battle for our continued existence? And then what if we can’t find some sucker who doesn’t mind traveling through time without a stich of clothing? Then he won’t do the freak nasty with Sarah Connor and humanity’s resistance movement won’t have a leader. What will we do then, huh?

These were the sorts of thoughts I was having, minus the plot of the Terminator franchise. Up until that point I’d been using my G.I. Bill to bank roll my writing. Every month Uncle Sam dropped some dollar bills into my bank account as long as I was enrolled in classes. It was the perfect set-up. I took classes, the money came in, and I spent all my time writing.  All I needed to do was finish the book before the money ran out. Easy enough, right? Oh, how I wish that was the case.

The real future fretting kicked in about the same time that I finished the first draft of my book. I was pumped when it was done. Beyond pumped. I’d written a whole book. Me. All by myself. Not something many people can claim to have done. Now I just needed polish it a little, ship it off to some trusted beta readers, and wait for my inbox to fill up with ego stroking e-mails.

Man. I was straight trippin’.

I threw up a little when I read through the first draft. The book was the worst. Worst than the worst. It was the worstest worst that was ever worsted. How had I written something so bad? More importantly, how had I thought that it was going to be good? The whole thing would have to be scrapped. I’d start from chapter one and write a totally new book. That was the only answer.

And that’s where things got hairy for me. My brain came down with a serious case of the what-ifs. Writing the first draft had taken a long time. A really really long time. How long would the next draft take? A year? Two? And what if that second draft sucked as hard as the first? The government wasn’t going to fund my writing forever. What if the money ran out and I had nothing to show for it but a couple of crappy novel drafts? If that happened I’d be super duper screwed. Straight up a tributary with no means of propelling my water-craft.

And so I decided to put the writing on hold for a minute. Not forever though. Just long enough to use the rest of my school benefits to get some legit job training. Some kind of nine to five that’d keep the lights on and food in the fridge. But what should I do? I knew from past experience that I needed a job I could bear going to every day. Because that’s how jobs work, right? They kind of expect you to show up everyday and, you know, work.

But that’s a topic for the next installment of this serial. See you soon.


6 thoughts on “That Time I Freaked Myself Out And Stopped Writing

  1. How do you know it was really terrible?? Did you let anyone else read it? Perhaps it’s salvageable, but perhaps you haven’t revealed that part of the story just yet. I will be patient.

    Happy to have you back!

  2. Dude, writers always think at first we are brilliant. This is the next best seller. Then when we read through it – because we have learned in the process from the beginning to the end we then have the moment -this sucks. that’s why you get other eyes on our stuff. If you want a beta, contact me. I’m an editor for a publishing house. It’s been my experience that we are our own worst critics – give yourself a chance!

    • I agree with Ellie. It always looks like it sucks when you re-read the first draft. Other eyes are needed. In my experience, the first draft is the hardest and most time-consuming. Later drafts are often much faster. I suppose it depends on how much needs to be restructured, but polishing prose isn’t that bad.

      • I hear you. Both of you. It’s the amount of “restructuring” that is the problem. Hopefully you’ll get what I mean in the next post coming at midnight tonight.

  3. Pingback: Picking A Job That Won’t Drive Me To The Bottle | The Bloggity Blog of Scott J. Clemons

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