The Pressure to Produce

I’ve had a couple small wins so far this year. Which, considering that it’s January 7th, is pretty good. Good enough to put me in a jolly mood, and those who know me well will attest that I am many things… but Jolly is not usually one of them.

I’ve been thinking — in my constant subconscious effort to ensure that the glass be viewed mostly as part empty — that success brings some expectations along with it. I’ve managed a few things that I was shooting for, hoping for, maybe even expecting of myself. And now that those things are kind of off my plate for the time being, I’m left knowing that it’s time to get back to work. And now I’ve got to think about a next step. I feel like I’ve put some checks in boxes and now I have to look forward and strive for something bigger; something even more meaningful.

I know I’m being a bit coy in terms of what these capital T THINGS are… and I’m sorry about that. Once things are firm, don’t worry, I’ll be sharing my news and sheer disbelief… but until then, I’m left wondering how to get going again.

I’ve had a couple irons in the fire for a long time. To talk specifics – I’ve got one novel that’s been brewing for like six years now. I’ve finally gotten a good third of it written and then I hit some snags. I’m kind of sitting on it again, mostly because I’m not sure how I want to proceed. I see a couple potential paths, and I don’t know which is right. I have tried a couple times to just plow ahead down one, figuring that I’ll know if it’s wrong… but I think there’s a lot of mental work still to be done on this one. I’m not sure it’s completely cooked and I don’t want to just toss it out there yet. Not sure if it makes actual sense or if it’s just an excuse for laziness, but sometimes I feel like I have to trust the part of this process that is outside my control and understanding. Something goes on in my brain when I’m not aware of it that helps these ideas grow into words that I can write. And I don’t think that these words have finished their gestation.

So I think I have been hesitant to start something new because I felt loyal to that effort.

There’s the YA paranormal that’s been on a shelf for about six months because it got pulled apart and put back together so many times that it no longer makes sense. I have actually put that at the top of my list now. But I can’t rewrite and edit during my real writing time (early morning). I do that at night.

So that leaves me sitting in front of a computer at five AM with the motivation but nothing to work with. I can’t write short stories in the morning. Or at least that hasn’t been successful yet. I’m not sure where those come from, if you want to know the truth. I get an idea at work sometimes jot it down and then rip something out in an hour or so when I get home… or something pops into my head at a random moment during the weekend. Those tend to just splatter on the page before me and often leave me wondering when I wrote them. That’s pretty much the case with most of Through a Dusty Window… and no, I don’t have a drug problem or a personality disorder that I’m aware of…

I’ve been stuck like this for a week or so… actually since I got the good news that I can’t share quite yet. But I think I’ve finally internalized it, digested it, whatever you want to say… and am able to take a next step without worrying so much if it will be a big enough step to trump my previous efforts.

And I know that it’s not fair to me to write with expectations placed upon words that haven’t even hit the page yet. So I’ll try to be more gentle with the process. I’m just wondering… am I alone in feeling this way? Is this just my negative nature? Or do other people feel almost frightened by success because it means that now they’ve raised their own bar?

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