Writer’s Remorse & Buckets of Pig Blood.
Posted on August 27th, 2012
Recently a friend asked me if I ever get ‘writer’s block.’
“No, but I do get writer’s remorse.” I replied.
“What in the world is that? Do you drink and then write regrettable things?”
“Well, I suppose I have done that from time to time.” I laugh it off and say, “Let’s just say sometimes it would be easier not to be a writer.”
I spent years feeling as if I was ready to punch the next person in the face that told me to: “Find your passion.” See, I already knew what my passion was. In fact, I’d known since I was a tiny tot that I wanted to write books. The problem was that I was really good at avoiding this truth.
In school, instead of writing, I studied other people’s writing. During college, I thought I might make a career out of the restaurant industry where I watched some of the best chefs turn sustenance into an art and learned from many talented people whose craft is the experience. Upon graduation I went to work in the legal field, a place where surprisingly a lot of would be poets pull in six figure salaries. I dreamed of starting up a non-profit for every cause you could imagine, from needy ponies to lovelorn lady bugs, I wanted to make dreams come true. Yet, I never regarded my own dream, to write, with any seriousness.
Why? There is a mammoth industry pumping out books, tests, coaching, and classes all to help people discover their dream. Why on earth would I bury my dreams while so many others are trying desperately to uncover their own?
Oh, wait. I know. Because, sometime following a dream is scary as shit.
My dream of being a writer entails: A) Write a lot of things that don’t utterly suck. B) Put out all your dirty laundry. Pour out your hopes, dreams, and mistakes in to a few sentences that you’ve slaved over out there and stand back while everyone judges not only your writing, but you as a person.
That’s where the writing remorse comes in. It’s a generalized sense of anxiety accompanied by a really bitchy voice in my head that, sounding suspiciously like the voice in the movie Carrie, screams “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” (And not in a “Your writing is really great and makes me chuckle,” kind of way. It’s more like a “you suck and no one likes you,” kind of way.) Sometimes, I can kick this feeling relatively quickly and just get back to work. Sometimes, it results in a few days of being really down in the dumps. I think to myself, “Why on God’s green earth couldn’t you have picked something a little more sensible to do? Why couldn’t I have become something like a nurse, a teacher, or a lawyer?” Christ, some days I’d rather be a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker.
Then I remind myself of the near decade I spent avoiding writing and how much that sucked. On even the best of those days, I felt like I was under a constant fog, and I was running into endless dead-ends. Some parts of writing feel so natural to me that when I am not writing, I feel like I am walking around with no pants on, or with a limb missing.
Now, at least I’m sitting here with my pants on and I feel like I am moving in the right direction. What of this other pain, the writer’s remorse? I figure it’s a growing pain that everyone who is living a life they create, instead of the one that was laid out before them, has to face. I tell myself that the occasional pain and the periodic blinding fear of failure is worth it, because when I wade through all the feeling muck, on the other side are the things that I have created. These things are infinitely satisfying, and for some crazy reason, worth the risks.