I haven't edited this week yet, even though I am four chapters from the end and I kind of need to finish this project in a timely manner. I've started writing a random short story—a retelling of Snow White, of all things, because I've always felt bad about how often she's portrayed as pretty naive and all around stupid—and it's super fun and distracting and I basically love it already.
And guess what? I don't at all feel guilty about this.
Oh, last year I probably would have beat myself up for being so lazy or whatnot, but things have changed for me. While I still have goals that I want to (and will) meet, I also know when I need to step back and have fun with writing again.
I mentioned this on Twitter, and a lot of people asked how I got to this fairly chill state of being, as far as writers go. I'm not sure you'll like my answer.
Basically, I've been on submission for 15 months. Almost 16. Woot. No, in all seriousness, a lot of writers wonder when that nagging pit of angst will go away—if it'll ever go away. Good news! I does go away! ...after like 13 months on submission.
That first year on sub, it was a constant mental barrage of "Oh my gosh I have to sell the first year or I'll be a total loser and I will never succeed and I'll be one of those lame writers who spends years on sub with no bites." And then I hit the year mark, which was totally devastating and embarrassing. Worst fears realized. All that jazz.
It sucked for like a month, and then...it just stopped sucking. It is what it is, you know?
I'd spent a lot of time worrying about something that, overall, wasn't that big of a deal. My life did not end. I don't entirely suck as a writer. I still had stories to tell. My agent did not dump me. People in the streets didn't point and laugh at me.
Shocking, I know.
After all that, I realized I was taking writing (and life in general) way too seriously. I'd lost the love. Writing had become a thorn in my side, something I considered removing from my life. So I took a long break—I took a few this year, actually—and I realized I had fallen prey to the publishing machine. Oh, I thought I was strong and doing fine, but I wasn't. I let rejections, etc., beat me down and suck out all the love I once had for telling stories.
I didn't want to feel like that anymore, so I went back to the beginning. I started writing for myself again. I decided that I would enjoy it no matter what came of it. I started the Happy Writers Society, mostly to remind myself that I don't have to be a tortured writer. I can be a happy writer at whatever stage I'm in.
And it worked, for the most part. I definitely still have my days, but I am also happier with my writing than I've been in a long time. I know when I start to feel crappy I need to step back and take a few days off. I am determined never to let myself get to that bad place again.