September 4, 2013

IWSG - i wish i were my cat

let me introduce to you my new kitten. we named him Pepper, not just because he's black, but because he's, well, peppery. as in sometimes sweet, sometimes feisty. as in confident and bold.

from the moment we brought him home, at the age of 6 weeks, he hasn't been afraid of anything. or to be more accurate, if he is afraid of something, it's only for a day at the most, and a few minutes at the least. if he suddenly runs away because something startles him, he comes right back.

i think that's because he's secure.

the woman who gave him to us had already taught him how to be around people and dogs. she'd handled Pepper from the time he was born. she brought Pepper's litter outside when they were strong enough and let them explore. when we went to pick kittens, none of them were shy or afraid.

if only i were as confident and secure as my kitten, even if just in my writing.

since confession is good for the soul, and maybe you can relate to one or two of these, i'll share some of my on-going writing insecurities, as related to the novel that just keeps going and going without ending.

-- 4 years. that's how long Black Heart has been in progress. of course there were a few moves in there, a lost dog, some health issues. but really, how long are the readers of the first one going to wait before they start protesting? even i'm starting to wonder if i'll ever finish.

-- after four years, and several drafts, and a few things i've written in between, my writing has changed. a lot. i mean, significantly. i don't sound like the same person anymore. that's good from a writing point of view, but how will my readers react? they liked the first one the way it was, over-used metaphors and all. what will they think when they read this one?

-- i just read a novel by one of my favorite authors. she puts in just enough description, is sparse with the metaphors, writes compelling characters, and makes me not want to put the book down. or ever write again. come to think of it, every time i read a book by a favorite author, i feel the same way. who am i to think i could ever write like that? (and then i tell myself - i'm not supposed to write like this author. i write like me. sometimes saying that out loud actually helps.)

-- how can i keep writing when i'm tired of my characters? when they feel flat? when i'm not inspired? when these fears invade my head?

of course, i might persuade Pepper to finish for me. when he walks across the keyboard, she could make up some great fantasy names: hdsfa    flhlhkf    tshdkl   mvcnm   vasbd    ukoupio

or i could ignore my insecurities and just write.

to read about other writers' insecurities, visit the Insecure Writers' Support Group list. 

and then go write. i'm going to go play with my kitten.


Yolanda Renee said...

I know what you mean, even after it's published those doubts invade. Feeling secure is the hardest thing when it comes to creativity, because of the judgement of others, but really because of our own harsh judgement!

Happy IWSG Anniversary!

stu said...

I suppose the big question is what you want to write right now. There's no obligation on you or anyone else to write a particular novel at a particular time, so just write whatever one best reflects you now.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's right - you are supposed to write like YOU.
I think readers know that we will improve with each book. And Black Heart will be just that much better because you've changed and grown.
Pepper is cute. She looks like she'll be into everything.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Glad to hear you have a kitten writing muse, Michelle, may you work happily together and good luck with Black Heart, you'll finish it.

Deborah Osborne said...

Pepper is so cute - I wish we could have a cat, especially one that could finish my writing for me.

I had a list of books I had bought but was too afraid to read because I knew I wasn't as good as their authors. When I finally managed one though I got inspired to try and write better.

Realising that this doesn't mean copying another author's style was part of that for me too.

I find taking a break or maybe playing with something else can help with a long term project.

I do agree with Stu though - you need to write what you want to write.

Anonymous said...

Concerning your point that your readers might be expecting a book that sounds like the previous book in the series... I think your readers will appreciate how you've grown as a writer.

One of my favorite parts of studying great authors is seeing how they grow as authors. There are a few, however, who try too hard to capture what they must think of "past glory." I won't name names, but in every case, I felt disappointed as a reader by the result.

I think the reason for this is that I, as a reader, have grown as well. Maybe in a small way, or maybe in a big way. But to see no growth in a book series that I follow just feels odd as a result.

I hope that makes sense, and I hope that helps.


Margo Berendsen said...

"I write like me" - that's my mantra too whenever I finish reading an amazing book that makes me insanely insecure!

Oh, you are making me want another kitten. But I can't. I already have 3 cats. Another kitten would take me down to the road to crazy cat lady, wouldn't it?

Love the name Pepper!

Donna Hole said...

I write short stories in between my long stretches with my favorite characters I'm still editing. Its not cheating, really; just getting a new perspective.

Cute kitty. I wish I was that secure also.


Julie Luek said...

Well Pepper is very very cute.

I read a lot of books that both inspire me and leave me in a hovel of self-defeating thoughts because they are so well-written. I read to learn and grow, but it sure can feed the doubts.

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

I tend to believe that if I love what I'm writing and it moves me, there will be others who love it and will be moved as well. Still, even with that belief, I go through moments of doubt and insecurities when thinking of the opinions of those who will not love it, and indeed give negative reviews. Too bad for them, I conclude, you've missed out on wonderful messages!

Wishing us all true belief in our worth as writers. Writer’s Mark

Susan Kane said...

Actually, I wish I were a cat sometimes. They get away with so much and have an air of superiority.

Diane Burton said...

You have to love what you're writing. Give yourself permission to write something else, something you enjoy, something just for fun.

Tonja Matney said...

I've been writing for four years, and in that time my writing has changed a lot too - in a good way. I'm glad I didn't jump the gun and self-publish or send out manuscripts that weren't as good as they could be. On the other hand, I have four unfinished manuscripts.