Shy Away

I love my writing group, but lately they’ve been stressing me out a bit — several have had some well-deserved successes, and now they’re saying it’s MY turn. That I need to polish up my latest revision and start querying agents, etc. and…that’s when I put my fingers in my ears and shout “lalalalala-i-can’t-hear-you!”

I’m not sure why I’m so resistant to the idea. Maybe it’s because I’ve let them talk me into this sort of nonsense before and it always ends in humiliation. Also, I’m not optimistic by nature — the odds of getting anything published are slim, especially without a platform or connections. Besides, the stuff I write is a bit offbeat, to put it mildly. Plus, it’s entirely possible — even plausible — that when it comes to writing fiction, I am just not very talented, whereas lots of other people are.

I know that one misses 100 percent of the shots one doesn’t take, or some such, but I’m inclined not to take the shot in the first place.

Perhaps because I know that, no matter what I write, it has to be flawless. Because I’m a woman. A relatively young woman, no less.

If a man writes a $#!++y book, people say, “Wow, that guy wrote a $#!++y book.” If a woman writes a $#!++y book, or even just a mediocre book, people say, “Women can’t write.”

If I were responsible for a bringing a bad book into the world, I’d be literally slamming a door in the faces of other writing women.

And that thought stops me dead in my tracks — which is how I’ve reached a point where I’m having trouble writing or revising anything at all. I’ve just stopped creating, because I’m aware that if I don’t write stories, then there’s no decision to make, because there are no manuscripts to send out. Clever, right?

Except that I enjoy writing. I enjoy it a lot. And so I’m annoyed that my enjoyment of writing is ruined by my terror of the marketplace, and of commerce in general.

I usually try to leaven my posts with pictures or pithy remarks, but that particular yeast is dead right now. I just don’t know how to climb out of this mental pit trap.

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