Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Revising and the insecure writer

My NaBlo posts are in the form of letters to my journal about my revision process. Along the way, I'll include Home-Made Revision Workshop posts, and my Friday Challenges..

Dear Journal,
Hi, my name is Jan and I'm an insecure writer. Oh, I know you don't believe me. You think I'm just trying to fit in with the new in-crowd, but you're wrong. I am insecure at writing and perhaps even more with revising. You see, I believe that revising separates the sheep from the goats (hi Elspeth's sheep!!!). I don't know if a writer is a sheep or a goat but today, of all days, insecure writers' day, I'm saying that a writer is a goat and not a sheep. Why? Well because goats eat anything and live off of it. Same as writers. Exactly. Why today, just today, dear journal, I ate an old tire, some sh*t (don't ask, won't tell), and my bank statement. Why? You may well ask. The tire is obvious for you alert journals, the second item I've already said I won't comment on, and the bank statement - that was dessert. If I wasn't a writer and a reviser I might have said that it was desert, but that would be wrong. Why would a bank statement be a big sandy hot area with a cartoon guy crawling across it, saying in balloon speak "water...water...just a bit of water..."?  Some other reasons that writers are goats and not sheep. We smell. It's true. I know we don't like to admit it but when we are deep in revisions, showers are just another pesky thought. Plus we eat popcorn with garlicky oil on it (no - not butter, we're on a diet!) and parmesan with that nice old sock odour. And the third reason we're like goats and not like sheep is that we can't sleep. We're always jumping around on mountains trying to find something, anything, to write about. If we were sheep we'd count ourselves and sleep. I can't sleep - that's why I'm writing this in my journal pretending it is Wednesday - oh - it is almost Wednesday - just 13 more minutes and it will be - then I can put the compost out and maybe go to sleep. I might have a cigarette. On the deck, in the driving cold rain. That would make me feel like a writer and I would definitely smell like a goat. Then I couldn't go to sleep and I could work on fleshing out my main character in the revision I'm doing. Good idea. By the way, Mari and Tartlette, I'm not blunking or drogging or any one of those elvish words. I'm just really really really tired. Because I'm a goat, an insecure writing, revising goat and baaaaaah (oh come on - I heard four goats today and that is just how they sound - the sheep copied them - they ARE sheep ya know).
Sometimes when people ask me what I'm "up to" (very suspiciously I might add) I will tell them I'm a writer and go blah blah blahing about 'what I'm working on' and how hard it is to find 'real publishers' these days. But don't kid yourself, journal, I'm still being insecure when I do that. Yes, I am. I'm blowing a lot of hot air. The thing is that when I'm finally a 'published writer' I won't ever say that. I'll slip it in real cool. "Yes, I'm working on my twelfth book. Uh...well only one's been published, but I AM working on my twelfth book. I'll be so secure. Then every first Wednesday of every month I'll write a Secure Writers' Post. Ha! OK, I'm going out on the deck to smoke now. See you tomorrow, I mean today.


Arlee Bird said...

Wow! It just turned Wednesday where you are and I'm reading this just after you've posted it and Wednesday is creeping on its way to my part of the country. I felt like I was reading something out of a James Joyce novel. Well, I've never read any Joyce, but this is how I might imagine his writing to be sheep, goats, and all. You just keep on going and staying at it. You make it and so will I. No smoking for me though. I quit 15 years ago.

Tossing It Out

Isis Rushdan said...

Lol, wonderful post. I don't think my insecurities will ever go away. Once published, then it'll be will readers like the book. Will I get a contract for the next one? Will I have a signing? If I do, will anyone show?

It's endless. Thank goodness Alex formed this group.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I might have a cigarette. On the deck, in the driving cold rain. That would make me feel like a writer and I would definitely smell like a goat.
LOL! I love it.

The bad news: I'm published, and the insecurities don't go away. The good news: You get better at fighting them off with a blowtorch and a can of hairspray. :)

It was a turning point for me (well after I was published) to realize that confidence (in your story, in yourself) really is the name of the game. It's what allows you to push through and do your best work (well, at least for me - some people have insecurity drive them to excellence. Everyone's different!).

Thanks for stopping by my blog today! :)

H. L. Banks said...

Thanks for your post Jan. I'm about to start my WIP and am chock a block full of insecurities. Your humour and insight were encouraging.

L.C. Frost said...

I dissected a sheep brain in college. It's smaller than my hand and this funky pale yellow beigeish color. Be glad you're a goat, lol. I'll wear my goat pride with you!

Also, I just saw on your side bar that you play accordian. You are officially the coolest person I know.

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - Yeah, there are definitely similarities between writers and goats (although I wouldn't have thought about that before reading your post). I think there's a certain amount of insecurity writers have no matter how often they've been published. When we write, we put ourselves out there, and that's nerve-wracking. Even for a goat.

Margot Kinberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M.J. Fifield said...

I loved the "I'm working on my twelfth book. Uh...well only one's been published but I AM working on my twelfth book" part. How true it is. Except for the me being published part.

An excellent post!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Would you care to eat my bank statement while you're at it?

Jan Morrison said...

Thanks all you marvellous people! Although I'm no Joyce, I'm happy to be so in Lee's dreams and of course I'll eat your bank statement Alex! Just so you all know - I did not have that cigarette. And I won't again tomorrow. I hardly ever do but truly I've been pushed as of late - just knowing I COULD is a big help. And for you sworn off smokers - I'm sorry - I know that those of us who can actually have just one or two a month are a big pain in the keester but hey!

Marta Szemik said...

Great Post Jan! You shine in your writing. Such humble writers like yourself are the best!

WritingNut said...

Excellent're right, writers are like goats, although you know... I never made the connection before!

Thank you so much for the encouraging post on my blog, I am ALWAYS up for suggestions :)

Melissa Sugar said...

What an interesting post . Writers are similar to a goat. I think I will have a cigarette now. Before I met other writers via blogging, I felt that I was alone with my insecurities. . Admittedly, I would prefer to be a published author right now insecure about what the public thought of my book, but I know that my insecutities will follow me, so I am trying to use them as encouragement to move forward.

It is nice to meet you. You have a unique way of blogging and it is refreshing to stumble upon your work