Monday, December 05, 2011

December 5: Sorry, but I Say Sh*t a Lot

December 5 Reverb Broads Prompt: What is the one thing you finally did this year that you always wanted or said you were going to do, but in your heart of hearts never thought you would actually do? courtesy of Amy at 2bperfectlyfrank.blogspot.com
(I pre-apologize for the excessive use of the word "shit" in the following post, but I needed it. And just a side note, I curse like a sailor most of the time. Except at work and around small children. Just thought you should know, I used a lot of restraint on here. I need back pats.)
Oh, if I were more narcissistic, and that is possible, I would swear that Amy had written this prompt to taunt me. As I read the list of possible prompt ideas that were submitted for our project this month, this prompt dove off the page and charged at me with claws drawn. I jumped back in a damp panicky fear realizing that, shit, I was going to have to write about it. I tried to mock it while it snarled at me, reminding me of my failures this year. Nothing dramatic, I wasn't fired or divorced, I didn't murder anyone accidentally or intentionally, no births, no maimings. But just some general "you've disappointed me, Kassie" type of personal failures. But on reflecting back at one significant thing that I wish I had forced myself to do this year, I could only long for last November 30, 2010.
Much like the lovely creator of this prompt, I participated in NaNoWriMo last year. I spent November 2010 locked alone in a room with just my brain, some half formed character ideas, a dream, some inspiration, some vaguely sketched plot lines and pithy dialogue and I hammered out a little over the required 50,000 words. And I felt fantastic. See, read here. I was happy. I'd started something I'd only dreamed of doing since 8th grade. I wrote part of a book. A real novel type thing. The momentum, the adrenaline, the pride. I had tackled the first part. It was hard. It was baby steps, but I had accomplished something. But then the flip side arrived.
I let the self doubt take over. I read through my first draft and it was awful. Hideous, embarrassing, it made me cry. Literally, and I'm not a big crier, I promise. I've read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott three times, I know the logical need for exactly what she calls "shitty first drafts" in the book. I know this intellectually. I know you can't edit without an actual place to begin. I just think I had the blind faith and idiocy to hope mine wouldn't be quite so coated in manure. Nope. It stank. It still stinks actually. And that's the real problem. That's the real failure on my part that sort of eats away on my confidence like a tiny stomach ulcer. That acid of doubt gnaws and corrodes my desire to open that draft. I question myself. "Maybe I'm not a good writer? Maybe I shouldn't be doing this, maybe I should just shut this blog and take up needlepoint? Why haven't my friends and family kindly told me I suck in order to to save me this pain? Maybe all I can string together is about 1,000 coherent words? Why I am such a wussy? Where is my self discipline?" Yes, I have actually thought these very silly, very stupid, probably very typical thoughts. 
So once Joe printed it for me last December, I read that draft once. And then I filed it away like every corny writer in every movie about a failed writer that I've ever seen. I dread when kind people ask me about it. They are only trying to be friendly and caring. And then I make snide jokes and mock myself for not wanting to lay hands or eyes on the shitty draft. And have I read it in a year? Have I edited or written anything else to continue this appallingly sad first draft? Nope. I've just let it sit, covered in that steaming manure. Just sit there. Taunting me, all ulcerated and stinky. Gosh, this is an appealing post, isn't it? Maybe I needed a warning about not eating any snacks while reading this ,in addition to the wanton profanity. But I wanted to be honest. Because it's been a struggle. I'm figuring out what I need to do to open it. So I'm just going to do that starting January 1. Writing about it and admitting my fear based terror/failure is probably the first step. Is there some kind of AA group for struggling writers? Or maybe they just call that AA?
I'm going to open it in January 2012 and I'm going to start working on it. Now, can you hold me to that, internet?

11 comments:

Emily said...

Here's to swearing like sailors...and writing (and rewriting) things that need to get written.

I'll pester you if you'll pester me. :)

zebrabelly said...

A. I like cussing, too.
B. Honestly, and maybe this is my own failures speaking, but I sometimes think things come in their own time. I've tried writing for years, but have never made it far. And yet, when I go back and reread what I've written in the past, I can see that each year that goes by gets me closer to where I'm supposed to be to do the writing. I've just tried to force it too soon. So maybe your year off has allowed it to grow inside you in a way that will make it more fully what it's supposed to be. :)

Kassie said...

Bonnie, I think you might be dead right. And it's hard for me to admit that. I was writing some pretty personal experience based sort of fiction last year. It hurt to look at,write it, and it felt very close to home still, dredging up old feelings and memories. Maybe that's exactly why I couldn't touch it this year. We'll see. I hope you're right.

Kat Walsh said...

Ha! Ha! Laughed out loud again! You CRACK me up! I can't wait to see what that manure pile turns into. ; ) It will be wonderful.

lanie@ plumb tuckered said...

Hmmmm... and where is my draft? Not even printed. All the better to stave off requests from friends who want to read it.
Seriously. It is one thing to read it and quite another to send it out into the world. Baby steps and all that.

Kristendom said...

I am confident that you will live up to your promise to start working on your draft in January. I will bug you about it if need be.
And truly, isn't writing the damn first draft enough of an accomplishment for you, lady? I was (and am) so proud of you for that, especially since I can't even commit to it yet. I don't care where you're at with the editing - I think you're pretty amazing for doing what you've done so far!
But go, edit if ye must, and I will hold you to that shit.

jastereo said...

"and I will hold you to that shit. "
Awesome Kristen. As will I (if you want, of course).

Andrea414 said...

I love your words! "Taunting me, all ulcerated and stinky." Don't give it up. (-:

bethany actually said...

As usual, Bonnie and I share a brain. I was going to say, a year might have made a big difference, you won't be so close to it.

I will totally understand if you don't want to, but if you wanted to trust me with a copy I'd love to read it.

My word verification is "shati" which sounds like the past tense of "shit" which is hilarious for this post.

Kassie said...

Bethany, once it's ready for public viewing, maybe 2 years, you'll be one of the first to get a draft. I'll need the help.

Jennifer Bergey said...

I attempted NaNoWriMo once. It didn't go well. So, I'm drooling envy over here that you accomplished THAT goal.

And I'll pester you in January, too. :)