A bit of an extended delay for the blog post this week, but in a way I’m glad for it. I decided to push this week’s original post forward and instead poke at the metaphorical ghosts for a bit. Specifically the Ghosts of Failures Past.
*Waits for stampede of people not interested in this topic to vamoose.*
Still here? Cool beans.
I’m not on contract with Carina Press for more than one book (this is normal for CP, for those who are curious), so whether I ever write a follow up to The Stubborn Dead or not is completely up to me. Of course I want to keep the Lost Souls series going. Heck, the first draft of Book 2 was technically finished around the time I was knee-deep with edits for Stubborn! Thing was, I knew there would be a few adjustments to Stubborn that would make an impact on Book 2, so I decided not to mess with it until I knew all of my edits were over. Once they were, I dived in.
And then I doggy paddled, floated a bit on my back, paddled some more. All in circles, mind you.
Actually, I’m not being dreadfully fair on my muse. I tore Book 2 to shreds around three times before I came up with a set of characters and a scenario that I felt would be believable despite the paranormal circumstances they were all in. Around this time I went to a Carina Press author lunch hosted by Angela James. Friendly (as in genuinely friendly, not mob-boss friendly) mention was made that I should get on that second book to help establish a regular publishing schedule. I said I’d have a polished version to my editor by the next week.
I didn’t. I spent the next two weeks nit-picking the manuscript until I felt exhausted, under-creative, and blegh. That was when my dad asked something along the lines of, if the story was good, and I had polished it the best I felt I could, wouldn’t it be better to send the damn thing in and let my editor decide if there was something there she’d like me to work on? You know – give her an opportunity to see if it was a story she was interested in acquiring, instead of me just editing myself into a state of panicky paralysis?
He was right. When I let go of the need for perfection I relaxed, eased through the last read throughs, and sent the manuscript off with not only a sigh of relief, but a deep sense of pride in my work. I realized I liked the story, and better yet, it had definitely improved over the time period I’d been Frankenstein-ing it. But (and this is a big one) I had been days away from burning out on it, possibly even scrapping it. Why?
Fear of failure.
Wha-? But I have a book coming out – how can I be afraid to fail when I know I have it in me to succeed?
I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been out of work for a while now. I never expected to be heading into month nine of unemployment. Especially since I kept being told that I was young, conscientious, creative, hard working – you know, all the good stuff that people are looking for in an employee these days. My previous job was at a massive international company, for gosh sakes! Finding employment should be manageable! Funny how your confidence gets shot from a twelfth story window when interviews don’t pan out. You get to the point where you stop reminding yourself that there were a dozen other people who didn’t get the job, either. You start wondering what’s wrong with you. You go looking for reasons why you, and your work, suck. You start to wonder if those previous successes were maybe flukes. And if they were, well, there’s a chance the stuff you’re working on now might suck, right?
There’s a theory in metaphysical circles that ghosts need to draw energy into themselves to create affects in the physical world. The same applies to your ego, otherwise known as the part of your mind that feasts on your fears, keeping you crippled by applying a steady salve of doubt and pain to your internal wounds. And it will dig deep, deep into your past to find examples of how badly you sucked. (How deep? I started getting down on myself for crap I did when I was little!) It is a vicious, terrible cycle of negative introspection leading to a steady withdrawal from the things you find passion and joy in so that you can try and find something that will ‘fix’ what you assume are peoples’ opinions of yourself. Which, ironically, pushes people away, leading to further sadness and introspection.
Stop. Unless you are one of those individuals who sacrifice small children or animals for the hell of it, there is an excellent chance that you have something in you that is viable, worthwhile and relevant right now. Yes, you may have some incredibly suck-tastic moments in your pass that are haunting your every weary step as you try eke out a place for yourself in this world. I will absolutely stand with you and acknowledge that. But then I will tell you this – you’re not alone. We’ve all had those moments.
ALL. OF. US.
Did you get the ‘all’ bit? Yes, even every awesome person that you hold in high esteem has had times in their lives when they felt like a dastardly idiot/loser/failure of epic proportions (to a greater or lesser extent). They just chose to recognize their issues, and say, “Yup, that happened yesterday. But how can I move on today?” And in doing so, they cut off the energy to their egos. Probably not completely, mind you. Dealing with the ego is part of being human. But they learnt to shine a light on its insidious nature, instead of letting it rule them. And it’s a funny thing about shining a light on something lurking in the dark – most, if not all of the time, it turns out to be far less substantial than you imagined.
And those negative opinions you’re pretty sure people have about you? Nine times out of ten they’re completely wrong, and the other one … well, let’s just say they’re probably not the type of person you want to hang out with/work for if they think you’re dreadful.
Wishing you all the love and support you need to turn around and put that ego in its place! And when in doubt, follow Pinkie Pie’s lead. ;)