Probably the worst time to start blogging about how you’re sure you’re going to be a crap writer, forever, is not the *four week mark after your new book has come out. Probably not. Nonetheless, that’s where my head is today, and sometimes all the nice things people can say to you, about your skill with voice, your turn of phrase, your sympathetic characters, etc. does nothing for you but flare up your case of Imposter’s Syndrome to epic levels you can’t even. Oh, sure, you like me today, but my fear is, even as you like me for what I do, I will no longer be able to do it. I have freaked myself out of being able to write a coherent paragraph for pretty much weeks. And so it goes.
Social media – in my case, Twitter – sometimes makes it worse. Social media is like that first time you had dinner at someone’s house as a child, and realized that other people used place mats or were allowed to drink juice or water with their meal – or were required to drink an eight ounce glass of whole milk. You opened your eyes and thought, “Huh?” and “Ohhhh.” Social media is like listening to other people’s families converse and realizing that there was a different way to argue, one which doesn’t require raised voices and fingers pointing, but maybe slammed doors or intense and terrifying spaces between words, or silences deep as the Mariana Trench. Social media – for me – is like experiencing adolescence all over again, in terms of hearing articulate people, people you like and respect model social mores and voice opinions you hadn’t considered, and realizing anew that you are very, very, very, very, very, very different, SO different from Most People.
… Social media is Other Voices, and Other Voices can sometimes make you doubt yourself, and your voice, and your purpose and your mission, ’til it’s a Wednesday morning and you’re sitting in your sweatshirt-maybe-dress and leggings and wondering to yourself, “How can I possibly write Young Adult fiction when I’m pretty sure I was hatched by surrogate aliens on another planet? How can I even have a voice? How am I supposed to relate when I was born so behind the curve?
I am reading Chimamanda Adichie’s first novel, THE PURPLE HIBISCUS, which was pubilshed in 2003. Chosen specifically because the book has a fifteen year old protagonist (and because the author is a person whose words I greatly admire), I am reading it for characterization and voice and asking myself what distinguishes this writer’s voice and this character from young adult literature from the American point of view, what distinguishes it from my perspective, and from books I’ve written, from experiences I’ve had. I’m also asking myself where my experiences and the main character’s overlap, where my experiences and the author’s experiences intersect. There’s a lot to unpack in this reading, and I’m enjoying myself. But, I’m also still hearing the statement that one of my writing group peeps said the other day, which was essentially, The more I am connected to the web, the more things I read which convince me that I probably shouldn’t write. Please note that this isn’t a cry for help as much as an acknowledgement: Sometimes I think like this, too. Is my voice …necessary? Is every story truly important, really? Is writing merely self-indulgent?
I am still figuring it out. Tune in maybe next week when I’ll perhaps have some answers.
*PS – I made myself wait a week before posting this, on the off-chance that this was Just A Mood and the feeling would pass. I’m not so intensely despairing and have been able to write again, thanks for asking. Having someone refer to me as being in the “entertainment industry” was what kind of jarred me, and put me off, I think. “Entertainment” doesn’t feel to me like what I do. The word seems to connote a luxury, a fribble-job in a serious world that has serious and major needs (mainly to be rescued from politically-directed INSANITY at this point). Trying to figure out where one fits in light of this is the key.