Facebook continues to vex me.
I still hate it, but for whatever reason, I keep going to it like an addict who needs a fix. I sometimes back off of posting on my personal page for a while, but then I peek out like a little groundhog, test the waters, and immediately regret it. With all the stuff going on in the world and a whole lot of crappy personal stuff going on the last couple of weeks, I should have just stayed away from Facebook and picked up my knitting. But I didn’t, and yesterday, I ventured onto Facebook and confronted one of those memory posts.
The thing about November is that a lot of my memories involve NaNoWriMo. I already shared one of the NaNoWriMo posts from last year, so I kind of poked through the other memories and realized…
It was six years ago this month that I started Ravenmarked.
Not gonna lie–it kind of took my breath away to realize that.
As I sit here now, typing this, processing all of this, it still takes my breath away. Why? I don’t know. I don’t know how to feel. I just know that I’m overwhelmed with… something.
There’s regret. Mostly regret. I regret ever starting the book. I wish I had kept it in my head. I wish it had always just been that image, that one picture of a woman in white robes running from a burning building. I wish I hadn’t let Connor and Mairead start talking to me. I regret the amount of time I’ve spent in that world. I regret sharing it. I regret writing it.
But I don’t know if I could have done otherwise. I don’t know if I could have kept it in my head. I think it was inevitable that it would come out eventually.
There’s resignation. I wrote it, and I may as well be intellectually honest and own it. And now that Pandora’s box is open, I sort of feel like I’m honor-bound to finish the story–to share what happens next, even if I don’t want to write it or share it.
It’s odd that I don’t have any real happiness about it. I sort of feel like I’ve wasted six years on writing fiction. Well, not six–I guess if you count my dark time, it’s really more like three or four years wasted. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel wasted so much as just a thing I did for four years, like knitting hats and scarves and socks, cooking dinners, raising children.
There’s a lot of ambivalence. I’m usually grouchy about writing these days. I don’t really enjoy it. I sometimes feel satisfied by a good turn of phrase or a particularly interesting scene, but there’s really no joy in the process anymore. And really, that’s pretty sad. I spend way too much time on something that I don’t really find enjoyable anymore.
So when I saw that memory about doing NaNoWriMo in 2009, and I realized that was the month that this madness began, I think I just sort of stopped and gasped and couldn’t process how to feel. Maybe it’s not important to feel anything, but I kept thinking there had to be some kind of emotion there or I wouldn’t have stopped and gasped.
I think mostly I miss feeling joyful about writing. That first draft of Ravenmarked ended up at about 105,000 words, but it was a complete mess. I had to cut it in half, expand it, and edit it. Then I published it. Then I got an agent, re-edited the book, republished it, lost the agent, unpublished, and republished it. And nothing has ever been the same since that first joyous foray into the world in November 2009.
Maybe this is just what writing is after a certain point. Maybe it just becomes like any other job–mundane, routine, basically a slog of monotony punctuated by brief moments of sheer terror.
Maybe I’m just at a plateau. Plateaus happen in all careers, jobs, activities. When I was taking piano lessons as a child, there were a lot of times that it just kind of stalled–where my head knew more than my fingers, or where my fingers just wouldn’t do what they were supposed to do no matter how hard I practiced, or where it seemed like I wasn’t really learning anything new or being challenged in any new ways. Maybe some new ideas or progress will shake things up a little. Maybe getting Bloodbonded off my plate and out into the world will help me move forward.
Maybe I’m just tired. Maybe parenting teens and tweens and trying to keep my house put together and running a troop and staying actively involved in my marriage is just all my brain can handle right now, and being enthusiastic about writing just falls really low on the priority list.
This is NOT about skill or talent. I’ve come to grips with the idea that I’m neither the best nor the worst writer in existence. I’m at peace with sharing and being in the slush pile, because there’s a lot of brilliant stuff in the slush pile right next to all the stuff that deserves to be in the slush pile. And it’s okay that I’m not in the top 10, because I don’t really want or expect to ever be famous or make a living at this. I am okay with just being a hobby writer.
But the thing is… If it’s a hobby, it should probably be more enjoyable.
I’m not going anywhere, so don’t worry about that. On a spiritual note, I am convinced that I am supposed to be writing at least a little bit, so I will keep muddling through, even if I am grouchy about it. Of course, this is how I tend to be obedient–like a surly teenager. I’m continually surprised that Jesus hasn’t just obliterated me out of complete frustration. I probably deserve to be a grease spot. But then again, the last time I operated from a position of grudging obedience, it turned out to be a huge blessing, and my faith grew in ways I could never have foreseen. That’s the thing–I think Jesus shows up in the midst of obedience. And since I’ve seen it before, I’m going to operate in obedience with the full expectation that he will show up again and grow my faith in new and unforeseen ways.
I just hope I don’t have to wait six more years for the blessing.