Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Insecure Writers' Support Group - Permission to Give Up
You know how some people are afraid of speaking in public? How they are just not able to get behind a podium without shaking like jello and spilling the water all over the mic, shorting out the entire sound system?
That's not me.
In fact, I've gotten up on that stage and presented everything from budget projections to speed networking (like speed dating but without the creepiness.) But that was for clients. I can talk any kind of nonsense in front of any number of people as long as I'm representing someone else. But as myself, as a writer?
Naked. Completely, uncomfortably and embarrassingly naked. That's how I feel. So when I realized I wanted to be a writer, I tried to come up with some structure, some thing that would give me the authority to say I'm a writer.
Yep, your looking at it. This blog. Then I went out and made bloggerly friends and read a ton about the industry. I went to a conference. I went to another conference. I blog-hopped. I lurked and commented and stalked. I was faking it until I made it. And I felt pretty good, pretty official and kosher.
Until I started getting rejections. I KNOW it's part of the process and I shouldn't take it personally. Tell that to my ego which is cowering under the (imaginary) BElieve in YOUrself embroidered pillow next to my desk. Insecurity for writers is a daily work hazard.
So I'm going to share with you my secret for soldiering on. Ready? I contemplate giving up. I think about what it would look like, feel like to just stop and say "I'm done." I let the idea of never doing this again fill my soul.
After I graduated from college I moved to England with my boyfriend. I was going to graduate school in my favorite city in the world with the man I loved. It was going to be AWESOME. Until immigration deported my boyfriend (long, long story) and I was left alone with two duffle bags full of useless stuff and not a soul to talk to. I tried to be a grown up, find a flat, store my duffle bags, figure out what bus went to my school. But I was so lonely, so completely freaked out about not knowing ANYONE that I often cried (ok, ok wept is more accurate) myself to sleep.
I didn't know how to fill my time while I waited to see if boyfriend would be allowed back in (wrong visa, delays at consulate blah blah). One day I took the train to Oxford. it was shagging down rain. I got on the Oxford sightseeing double decker anyway. I sat behind the driver, watching him give his pater into the mic while me and a couple of Japanese tourists tried to make out the dreaming spires through rain smeared windows. The rain dripped onto my head until it drove me crazy. I went back to the train station and called my dad.
Now, brace yourself. This is before email/text/cell phones. I used a payphone with a phone card that you shoved into a slot. I cried at Dad. I told him how I was feeling and everything that had happened and why everything was so terrible. And he said the magic words.
"So, come home."
Nothing stops a weepy tizzy faster than some common sense. I could go home. I could give up. It would be easy to do. He'd pick me up at the airport and we'd forget all about this little adventure. By giving me permission to say "I give up." Dad made me realize that was the last thing I wanted to do.
I stayed for almost five years. My boyfriend eventually was allowed back in the UK. And, reader, I married him.
Go on, imagine what it would be like to throw the writing towel in. If it fills you with relief then, yeah, maybe its time to take a break. But, if like me, it makes you nauseous, like you'd rather suffer any indignity other than that, then - congrats - I confer upon you the title of 'writer.'