The Pretender

I was over my father and sister’s house for my father’s birthday and naturally the usual questions are asked, such as “what have you been doing?” and “have you finished that first draft yet?“, looking for a way to cast my family’s focus away from me and my lack there of writing accomplishments, I made the mistake of mentioning my writing friend and how they’ve recently released another E-book, my sister then proceeds to interrogate me about my Metamorphosis WIP Novel Project, to which my response was “I have this amusing youtube video I’d like to show you…

However, I ended up talking about The Lake of Tears WIP novel project instead (this one is an urban fantasy where as Metamorphosis is Science Fiction/Fantasy. Yes, I know, I have too many WIP novels), about how the religion and mythology of two of the races in my novels and how the two religions are heavily interconnected, as they both feature the same goddess but with a different face and/or name, as in one race gives the goddess in question the title of “The Great Mother” where as the other race give her the title of “The Goddess of Divine Sight” and while my sister and father were supportive, telling me “Wow, you’ve obviously put a lot of thought into this.“, I have never felt more like a Pretender-Writer (no, not that one) and less like a Real-Writer than I had in that moment.

I felt like one of those people who stand there at dinner parties and say, “Oh yes, I’ve always known I carry a book around inside me, specifically one about a Journalist whose trying to write a book and solve crime and they have a cute little dog who acts as a side-kick…” because I laugh at those people, well I mean not on the outside, but definitely on the inside, because that’s all they do, talk about it. They never actually get around to sitting down and putting pen to paper or fingers to laptop (whichever the case may be) and anyone who has met me IRL will testify to my constant ranting about how the publishing industry shouldn’t be endorsing terrible books like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, but what alternative am I providing? I criticize Stephanie Meyer and E.L. James for their internalized sexism and thinly-veiled fantasy projections and yet they have managed to do what I haven’t.

I know that it’s wrong that we live in a society that demands constant perfection and thus the vast majority of people refuse to admit to any weakness, any flaw, any form of limitation, even when it’s staring you right in face and it’s obvious to EVERY SINGLE PERSON but you. I know I struggle with confessions of hard-to-bear truths, that I cover up my emotions with Sarcasm and Self-Depreciating humor, I know I am not exceptional in this regard (I have never met a writer who doesn’t do either of those things), and while I know that I am flawed (so very flawed)

I also know that I am afraid.

So afraid and of the stupidest things. Like what if I don’t have any actual talent at writing (because a lack of talent has ever stopped anyone) and I’ve just deluded myself into thinking I have? What if everyone realizes what I phony am I? What if I’m just as bad as Stephanie Meyer? What if I’m worse than Stephanie Meyer? What am I going to do then? Because I can’t do anything else but this, this is the only thing I think I’m reasonably good at. What if I’m not successful? What I never finish a first-draft, a novel, a series? What if I’m stuck for the rest of my life in this fucking awful state of limbo where I can’t go back to pretending that the words I write don’t matter but I can’t move forward either and finish what I start?

A part of me (okay, a large part of me) doesn’t want to publish this, I don’t want to reveal this childish and terribly insecure part of myself, because I don’t anyone to think I’m fishing for compliments or reassurance, because a part of me thinks I don’t have the right to voice this, because I don’t want to appear as though I’m complaining about my lot in life, because I have so many good things I should and need to be grateful for. However that doesn’t make my fear any less real.

But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up, I know what Bravery is not the absence of Fear, but perseverance in the face of Fear, and while I don’t think of myself as a brave person, I want to be.

4 comments

  1. I wrote a very, very long comment-essay in response to this that I don’t have the physical ability (my wrist, bleh) to re-write tonight. Tomorrow, I think. But I am glad to see this here, because this kind of dialogue needs to happen (you’ve seen my blog, right?), and especially among writers. We’re in desperate want of real conversations about vulnerability and honesty in our words and our lives – and society is in desperate want of moving away from this idea that gratitude for what we have means we shouldn’t also express our struggles and fears in all their beautiful, honest, amazing, courageous vulnerability. It takes courage, of the highest and most amazing sort, to stand up and admit to anxiety and fear! It takes courage that isn’t recognised or valued, and it should be – but instead we are encouraged to be silent, encouraged to deny ourselves, encouraged to be cowards. To be silent, somehow, is to be brave? NO. I loathe this attitude. I loathe the damage it does to people like you and me. I loathe the fact we’re discouraged from engaging in real conversations about who we are and what we feel because somehow ‘gratitude’ for the good in our life means denial of our struggles. As someone with chronic pain currently experiencing a fairly severe depression spell/episode, being grateful for what I have – the ability to write, a couple of books, a job, the freedom to live as the gender I am not – doesn’t invalidate the fact that sometimes my life is really fucking hard. I’m tired of the idea that I need to compare my pain to someone else’s pain and shut up because my pain isn’t pain enough (and there is always, always someone with more pain than you). No. This isn’t what gratitude should be about. Gratitude should be life-affirming, not discouraging. Gratitude shouldn’t make us feel sad or diminished or wrong.

    When we know that our social trend to silence on the things that matter leads to suicide, we can’t afford to not give voice to our anxieties and fears – not when we know, for sure and certain, that our creative siblings need that validation. I’ve had someone tell me that they needed to hear my words, and that moved me more than my blog post could say, so now I’m saying it to you: I need to hear your words. And so do other people who don’t have the courage to say those words to you directly; so does everyone who has read and liked this post. We need to hear your confession about how damn terrifying writing to publish truly is. We are better for your saying it. We are so much less alone.

    Stand up and say what you feel and are with glorious, amazing, wild abandon; stand up and say it despite the anxiety and the fear that throttles you. Stand up, because it fucking needs to be said, and that’s the only thing that matters. We will fight the world that wants to silence us, you and I, and we will fight it with the only weapons left to us, the only weapons that matter – our glorious, amazing, wild words.

  2. I’m truly sorry about your wrists, I was supposed to write a blog-post Friday for my writing blog, however I ended up writing this post instead and tried to schedule it for Sunday. So I’ve been waiting two days for a possible response for this. I thought two days would give me enough time to let it rest (is that the right term for it? Oh well, it’ll have to be, I’ve always thought cooking and writing were similar in an abstract way) and then re-check it on Sunday, that maybe time would give me a better perspective on how to improve it, because I’m still not happy with it, but I figured I never would be happy with hacking away at my ego with a great-big metaphorical cleaver. It’s funny, a part of me thinks I said too much, while another part of me thinks I didn’t say enough.

    I’m glad that this post mattered to someone. I was worried that people wouldn’t be interested in a post like this, for what right do I have to post it? What right do I have to be afraid? But as you said, I don’t need nor require someone else’s permission for my pain to be validated, I don’t need to feel X amount of pain before I have the right to say “I’m suffering over here, I could use some help.”, I have the right to say “Enough”.

    You know it’s funny, with regards to my Metamorphosis WIP Novel Project, I had developed a block, I knew where I wanted my character to go but I wanted them to return back home, but I couldn’t figure out how to get them home or why they would begin the journey back (why not let stay where they currently were) however, after I finished writing this post, the next day I realised exactly what the problem was. It was a narrative structure problem, and it’s too complicated to explain here, but the fact remains that I figured it out and, I know it sounds stupid, but after months of not being able to figure out where to go next and what the hell was wrong with it, I got my flow back and it was the most glorious feeling 😀

    • I may or may not have just realised that I can follow comments I’ve made through WordPress’s Comments I’ve Made feature. Don’t ask how I was doing it before. Man, I feel stupid.

      I’m going to hazard a guess that since your post has generated likes, it means something to people who are not me. Just a wild stab in the dark, there. 😉

      It’s okay! It just means the world doesn’t get my thoughts on the how-many-projects-I-have-on-the-go part of your post – and my appreciation of your hilarious ‘people who say they want to write, but don’t actually write, about people who want to write, but don’t actually write’ case example. As for me, I don’t schedule posts. I let them bake as drafts (I too am about the cooking metaphors, apparently) and post when I feel like it (as is probably obvious). My last post was probably a draft for six weeks – I’m right now wading through my draft posts and either finishing/polishing ones in need of posting or trashing them. I have twenty-six drafts to work through…

      It’s funny, a part of me thinks I said too much, while another part of me thinks I didn’t say enough.

      That’s a description of life inside my head – no matter what I do it’s not good enough. Often I’m simultaneously wrong in the direct opposite ways all at once because being wrong only one way isn’t horrible enough. Thanks, anxiety!

      Writing’s terrifying. It just is. We’re inviting the world on a journey that showcases who we are in the dark, and you fucking bet they notice. You’ve got every right to be afraid. You probably should be afraid, if you mean to go out there and do it properly. If you’re not afraid, even a little bit … well, I think that says something about playing it safe, and that’s not the kind of art that matters. I would like to be less scared, sure, but I think I’d lose something if I lost my fear entirely. The good news is, though, that people fucking notice when we stand up and show who we are in the dark on purpose because real, flawed, vulnerable heroes are the ones that resonate with a reader. Think of all the people you really admire: I bet you none of them are perfect. I bet you all of them stand up and talk about their flaws as well as their strengths. I bet you they’re vulnerable, honest and real. They’re the people I’m trying to be.

      I don’t need to feel X amount of pain before I have the right to say “I’m suffering over here, I could use some help.”, I have the right to say “Enough”.

      Quoted for fucking truth and because this isn’t said enough, but should be.

      after months of not being able to figure out where to go next and what the hell was wrong with it, I got my flow back and it was the most glorious feeling

      AWESOME. Go you! That is the most wonderful, brilliant feeling, and I’m so glad that’s happening to you. *waves pompoms*

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