Don't judge a person, the saying goes, until you have walked a mile in their shoes.
As an author, it is kind of my "job" to walk in other people's shoes.
I concoct people out of the ether, assign them names, personalities, quirks, body types, jobs, and homes. I am all up in their heads, puppet-mastering their every move, much less tromping around in their shoes.
Sometimes I get my feet so firmly attached to the shoes of my fictional characters I have a difficult time tossing them aside. This time last year I remember well. It was about the moment I relinquished my hold on my reality and dropped into a black hole. That black hole became a novel, Good Faith. One I am very proud of, and have spent a lot of time and energy and money trying to convince people to buy it and try it.
It was a difficult story, one full of people with a lot of quirks and problems, including dangerous addictions to substances and activities. It also ended badly for a few people, people I really liked, whose heads and shoes I have occupied for the better part of five years now.
And I am finally figuring out why I am so clogged up, so to speak, now that it is time to move on and find a few new stories to tell.
I'm still wearing those shoes, still thinking in their heads, imagining what they would do or say in particular situations. No wonder writers were considered among the craziest of society's participants. Maybe we still are.
Despite this novel's drama-filled release period. Despite the fact that this 225,000 word novel took me about ten weeks to write, then another 3 months to edit/revise/edit. Despite the fact that its release day, like the previous nineteen or so release days I have experienced started with the sun coming up and ended with the sun going down, nothing more. Despite the fact that I've more or less been giving it away for a dollar for weeks now just to try and capture a few more readers with it.
Despite all that, this novel is one I will be the proudest of no matter what happens to me or my future books.
However, I am only just now, a year since I sat down and wrote the opening scene, able to slowly start letting the characters go. Don't get me wrong. These particular characters are in 9 different books. The last novel however, I wrote as a stand alone OR as a final installment of a popular series. One of the characters (Jack Gordon, arguably the Liz Crowe male counter-personality) even had a near 600 "liked" fan page but I deleted it altogether last month.
I'm not so ego-centric to think that "no one understands how I feel." Any author, no matter how big, small, great or awful, LOVES their creations. We all get butt hurt when we see readers talking or swooning over or recommending characters NOT ours.
But as part of what I like to think of as the Liz Crowe Author Professional Arc of Experience, I'm at a low point right now. The best word I can think of to describe it is "fragile."
A good word, Fragile.
It denotes and connotes a lot of personality or physical issues. I'm fairly robust in my physical self (too much so, some would argue) but I am finally coming to terms with why I seem to be going through an I HATE WRITING phase.
As authors we are advised (and I give this advice a lot too, sort of in the realm of "physician heal thyself") not to let our fragility show online. Don't bitch about your hard work, your lack of sales, others' successes relative to your failures. Don't cry, moan or otherwise kvetch about your shitty life choice. You wanted to "be an author."
You were warned that succeeding at it, really truly succeeding in the block buster, multi movie deal, pulitzer prize winning way you dreamed of was about as likely as you winning the Super Mega Zillions Lottery off of a one dollar ticket. Talent and hard work aside, there are just too many others out there who are wiling to perhaps work just…that…much…harder than you. Or whose Karma Fairy is just better connected.
But yet, you, I, we chose it. So we are not allowed to complain about it. Suck it up. Make more goals. Walk away from the writing and just leave it. But no, once you write, you cannot stop, in most cases.
I'm not stopping, but I am going to pause a few days, and ponder why I should continue it. We all have these moments if we are honest with ourselves. And right now, my perspective on this whole write/edit/release/promote/promote/pay/promote/promote/promote and watch others do the same or less yet leapfrog you, is …. fragile.
Feeling out of control of your destiny in a difficult field is THE most frustrating thing ever--and I know that no matter if you are big time pubbed, small pubbed, self pubbed or pre-pubbed, that "out of control" feeling is one that is a constant companion.
I have a ton of projects in my head. More every day. And perhaps it is my current frustration in other ares of my life that are also intervening. Oh, and undergoing the sort of editing process that is more like a Master Writing Class Beat Down (as in "great work. go rewrite it completely now") probably isn't helping. But, at the same time, I know it is. Or that it will be. Someday.
But don't mind me.
I'm just feeling fragile. And I'm just peri-menepausal enough not to want to hear about going on walks, eating chocolate or just "taking a break." I want this god-awful, teary, frustrated "I can't write I suck" feeling to be GONE from me, completely.
I have new characters' shoes to inhabit. They are just over there, waiting in my wings….
So this is me, signing off, staring at my Goals Board and giving myself a pep talk by writing about my feelings….don't judge me. My shoes are pretty darned uncomfortable.