Being invited to give a talk is exciting. It means that people think you know a lot about whatever field you work in and that you’re wise. Wise! I’ve been invited to exactly four gatherings since I started writing Stiletto Point, which makes me suspect that people didn’t think me all that clever before.
The latest event was Rotaract gathering at SteakOut bar. Not knowing that this venue is well loved by Rotaract clubs, I stumbled from one group to another awkwardly asking if they were the one supposed to have me as speaker. Without fail, people’s eyes would glaze over with indignation, like, “How dare you interrupt our meeting? Why would we have you as speaker? Who are you?” and I would always stifle my instinct to say, “Excuse me. I am Apenyo. Don’t you read? Don’t I look like my caricature?”
I finally reached the group I was supposed to address, ordered my gin and tonic and tried not to scrunch my face at the level of formality with which members of Rotaract address each other.
The subject I addressed was writing; specifically the ugliness I suffer whenever I’m upgrading, growing in the craft. My growth process is hideous and I’m going to share it with you, like I did with them because I have no personal pride.
It starts with me noticing a pattern in my stories, a kind of stagnation. There’s no one particular thing that alerts me to this pattern really but when I notice, my stories start to suck. I begin to criticize words before they even hit the page and even become unable to hold coherent conversations because I’m too busy editing my words before I say them. I become irritated with the world, anxious and hateful of any person that stares at me for a fraction of a second longer than I deem necessary- basically, I become a sociopath.
The Knowledge that I will have become a little better at telling stories at the end of it all is little consolation. The pain is too much. Meanwhile, my story generator doesn’t give two shits about my situation. It keeps throwing suggestions and ideas at me full knowing that any attempts to flesh them out beyond the idea stage will result in pain. So frustrating.
When I chose the writing path, I didn’t think things would be hard. Coming to the realization that the actual work involved is just as hard as anything else I could have chosen to do was very disappointing. I thought I was escaping the challenges of growing up by choosing something I already did as a hobby. I was wrong.
Writing requires discipline, a decision to sit in the same place at the same time everyday and create even when you’d rather be stabbing your face with a pencil.
Writing is fulfilling when it’s easy and ugly when it’s not.
I have shared my angst-ridden growth process with you. Tell me. Is this what you all go through in your profession? What are the things that you do to revive your mojo when it collapses and makes you useless?