The decision to say no to National Novel Writing Month this year was much easier than expected. Perhaps I’ve finally found what I so desperately sought from NaNoWriMo in the past: routine, support, a tangible deadline. Or maybe, I’m finally handling myself and my writing life with more care.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve written here. In part, because I didn’t feel like there was anything to say. In truth, because I had too much on my mind to ever find the perfect words to explain. As Neil Gaiman can attest, there is much to be broken inside every one of us.
In the past year, I’ve fought against my own fragility. Instead, I showed only the strength I so desperately tried clinging to in the midst of another anxious spiral; a Cancerian through and through. Like February and June, August and then October, I found myself getting stuck. And yet, rare are the times I let this show. I certainly don’t mean to be so guarded in real life. Nor do I want myself as a writer to seem far above the day to day battle against the blank page, overcoming rejections, etc.
This is what my anxiety looks like to the outside world. Guarded. Control Freak. Perfectionist. Unapproachable. Driven. Intimidating. I’m not sure if you understand, dear reader. I’m not sure if your struggles are similar to mine. Like the best of fiction, I do believe the most authentic writing comes from slivers of truth.
This is my truth. I care too much. I overthink. I’m ambitious to the point of losing sight of reality. I’m a dreamer. I’m perceptive and terrified and unsure. Sometimes I feel like a snow globe inside, shaken and unsettled. The swirling stops and starts all over again. It’s a cycle, an endless spiral. It’s criticizing myself all while reaching further. It’s shame and silence. It’s standing still in a crowd with too many words in the mind and no way to say them out loud. It’s making lists and setting goals and trying to be better without any guarantee.
While this year has been filled with happiness and friends, adventures and successes, there’s still this gnawing feeling. And the past few weeks leading up to the start of NaNoWriMo only cemented this understanding that to participate this year might not be the best for my mental health.
I don’t wish to treat myself like a fragile thing, but alas, I’m still putting myself back together again. I’m recovering from a sinus infection, most likely my body’s way of telling me to slow down. I’ve hit 141 rejections for the year. Amidst everything else this week, I received news that the multi-media anthology where my work was slated to “one day” be published has been cancelled. This was after being accepted August 15, 2015. I suppose after four years, I should’ve known this might not see the light of day, but now, it still feels like further defeat.
And yet, I refuse to give up. On myself. On my writing. On representation from an agent. On publication for DREAM CATCHERS. It’s all still a work-in-progress. As I near the end of editing and get closer to the query trenches, I feel more strongly than ever that THIS will be the story that makes my dream of publication a reality. And I don’t need to write and edit everyday. I don’t need to strive for 50,000 words to be successful. I have my people near and far reminding me to be proud of everything I’ve accomplished so far.
To those people, you know who you are. With your texts and tweets, phone chats and letters, quotes from Steve Jobs and DaVinci, you all have helped me realize how wildly capable I am, despite this slower pace, these deeper breaths, this diligence and dreaming; I hope you know how much your existence means to my world of writing and beyond. And to those of you, dear readers, in the same fragile place as myself, I hope you find clarity and kindness and courage to believe you will better.