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?