Every once in a while the snarky voice in my head grows louder. Why are you still doing this? It says. You haven’t had a story published in two years. Your books are being rejected left and right. Why bother writing every day? Why start another book? Why revise an old one? Why write at all, when every other thing you’ve written has ultimately ended up in a drawer?
Most of the time I can shut this voice up, push it to the back of my head until it’s a mumbly buzz, then continue to write anyway.
The past few weeks, however, the snarky voice gained the upper hand. First, I had read the mess of the first draft I “finished” before Christmas and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. I knew I needed to rewrite the beginning. I knew I needed to rewrite the end. There was a lot of rewriting that needed to be done in the middle too. So, ick, on that. I just didn’t have the energy.
Then there was the sickness that descended on my household, a flu-y/cold/cough/fever-y thing that wiped my whole family out. For three days we mostly watched reruns of Friends on TV until our eyeballs burned in our skulls. Revising a book just didn’t seem very appealing to me.
When the sickness passed, and one by one husband and children went back to work and school, I was left behind to clean up the mounds of dropped Kleenex balls and disinfect the bedding.
Finally it was just me in a mostly cleaned house with a majorly flawed manuscript and a few leftover, unwatched Friends episodes. Hmm. What to do? Snarky voice told me to watch tv. What’s the rush? It said. It’s not like this book’s going anywhere anytime soon. All true.
And yet, one day while I was driving around town checking off a list of errands (dry cleaners, library to return Friends’ rental, supermarket, carpool, etc.), it hit me that if I didn’t write, THIS is what my life would be. I am not knocking housewives in any way. I have been one, on and off, over the past thirteen years, but the truth is, it really isn’t enough for me and never has been. And in the end there’s only so much cleaning and cooking and okay, watching tv, that I can handle without wanting to stick my head in an oven ala Sylvia Plath.
Snarky voice tells me there’s a fine line between pursuing a dream and being delusional. And it’s a very real possibility that I have crossed over that line. But I’m not listening. Today, I’m back to writing. Because I’m a writer. And whether I’m published or not is sort of beside the point. The thing I’ve learned over the years is that I feel good on days I write and I feel cruddy on days I don’t, and that’s pretty much all there is to it.