Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stories (The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Mirror)

So, weirdly, my depression seems to have done something to my writing. Not sure, to be honest, if it's a positive thing or a negative thing. A couple weeks ago, I was talking about how depression doesn't actually give you any self-knowledge, which is a bit of an oversimplification. Whenever I slide back into the depths of Relapse Hell, something has to break before I can climb back out again. Last time, I was able to use this knowledge to haul myself back out. This time, the thing that I learned about myself is every bit as unattainable as I believed it was when I went in. I don’t know what to do with that knowledge. But it seems, I am doing something anyway.

Ordinarily, when I sit down to write, this is what happens.
Omg why is this story in my head so good? I cannot get this down.
There. I have written it and it’s awful. I wish there was somewhere like an idea repository you could dump things so someone less crap then me could do this.
It’s not fair. I don’t want to do this.
I hate this. It’s awful. Why do people tell me I’m so good?

Lately, all of that’s been happening, as normal. And then, in this very calm voice, the same calm that scares me at night and tells me that it’s never going to happen, and I should just give up, goes,

It’s not like it matters, anyway. Just do it. Just do it and suck. If nobody cares, at least nobody cares if you suck.

Which makes a lot of sense. I’m not sure that it’s a positive feeling. But it’s been a nearly a month, and I’m still writing, nearly every day. (Okay, so I haven’t quite built up to every day. But whatever. Words are getting posted, and I no longer want to die. I am taking this as a win.)

So. Words are coming out, and I don’t feel like I hate the words less. But I feel like I’m probably always going to hate the words, or at the very least, I’m always going to wish I wasn’t the one writing the thing. I think that might be a part of me. It’s a part of me that makes me long for the days when I was young and could read back what I’d written and see how young and untried I was, but also see potential. It makes me wish I’d never learned to read critically, which is almost blasphemy. It is, at least, a part of me that’s loosening the reins a little bit. It’s also why I love to write in different genres. There are certain things I can’t take seriously, and I’m learning to forgive myself that. I remember Stephen King once offered a room full of would-be writers the advice to read crap, so at least you can comfort yourself with the fact that you are at least better than that, and that was published. I feel like right now, I’m taking a bit of a different approach.

I just finished reading the latest Neil Gaiman book, The Ocean At The End of the Lane. I’m not going to review it, never fear. I do not think I could adequately or critically express how brilliant it is, other than to say, “It’s Neil Gaiman. Go read it.” But Gaiman is one of those authors who is so brilliant it doesn’t make me feel bad about whatever I’m doing. Because telling yourself you want to be that good some day is the same as little Ally writing stuff that makes the adult Ally smile, and cringe and still see the potential. It’s the equivalent to buying your first home and realizing you will never be wealthy enough to own a castle. Of course, it would be nice to have a castle, or even to have a home as big as you’d like. But it’s not going to happen. Somebody else is there, and there is no way I am that. And weirdly, I am fine with that. I hate the fact that I might never write something as popular as Stephanie Meyer has written, and that might be seen as a reflection of my skills. And I’m terrified it might even be a reflection of my skills, and it’s that terror that makes me hate everything I’ve ever written. I am aware of the problem. But then. There are writers who have somehow set the bar so high, I don’t ever want to even reach for it. And that knowledge is somehow a lot more comforting to me than, “I can do better than that.” The knowledge that it’s not just that I can’t be the best. It’s that I can decide I don’t want to be. It strikes something deep and visceral inside me. I don’t want to be the best. I just want to tell stories.

Put like that, why the hell not?

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