Been a minute. I think it’s safe to say it’s been super busy.
I’m currently sitting on three complete novels. Shopping two and revising the hell out of one. It feels good to get work done. I’m out of whatever funk I had last year and looking forward to some short stories and the release of the anthology later this year (you preordered, right?).
Fun fact: last year, I was 100% going to quit this after HELL CHOSE ME dropped. Look at me now.
Even with all that accomplishment, it’s easy to find moments of doubt creeping in at the periphery. Are these projects good enough? Did I waste my time? Will anyone care? All questions every single writer asks but all easily the kinds that become internalized so much that they can stifle you completely. The downstream impact on other parts of your life can be awful as well. If you’re an imposter here, couldn’t you be an imposter anywhere?
I’ve written about this feeling before, but with some time between entries, I like to think I have a little more perspective now. These feelings aren’t going anywhere. They’re common, and maybe even a little healthy depending on how we manage them. Are they capable of placing us in a spiral? Sure, but any emotion can do that. What I’ve found works for me, though, is the acceptance of those emotions; the acceptance of how they can screw with me; and the acceptance that these come in ebbs and waves. This feeling will not last forever. That forward thinking, again for me, has helped me work through the complexities in a way that I’ve found to be healthy and less of a burden on those around me.
That said, it isn’t all internal management. I’ve learned to pull back on other things I know tend to flare up these problems. I no longer stretch myself as thin as I have in the past. I cut toxicity down as much as possible. The first sign of that shit, and I’m out now. There’s no more time to wade through other crap and there’s no point in spreading any of mine either. I used to think that was mean but realizing that I don’t want to be anyone’s crutch or whipping boy also made me realize that I need to be mindful of doing the same to others.
And bluntly, that’s one of the reasons I’ve changed how I approach writing events and conventions. It’s exhausting to be “on” all the time and it’s equally exhausting to feel alone in a room where folks interested in using marginalized people as props (or are equally empowered to look down on them) outnumber the friends. I can go deeper into all of that, but it also isn’t my job to uplift anyone who isn’t interested in being better. Folks need to clean their own houses and I’m no longer going to allow myself to be condescended to by anyone because it might affect my aspirations. That mindset pushed onto marginalized writers; the idea that we’ll be replaced with a more palatable member of our community whenever we speak out of turn or act of our own accord? Fuck that noise.
It may not sound like it, but I am more optimistic than I’ve been in a while. I’m on the agent search and I know that’s slow going. It isn’t affecting me like it has in the past, though, and I feel good about that. Folks are slowly turning on to HELL CHOSE ME and I feel a little vindicated in my book that nobody seemed to understand only a couple of years ago. I’m finding more confidence in my writing voice and no longer feel the pressure to match everyone else or find that “sweet” pitch. It’s not that I’m aloof about it now, I’m just cool with the wait.
I’m cool with the wait, because I don’t plan on quitting anymore. I don’t plan on letting that weird feeling that I’m not wanted in the room feel like a burden—it’s a gift.