Dealing with a lot of self-directed anger. It’s…insidious.
I’m an over achiever. I don’t know any other way to be (although I’m learning to remove judgmental values of “good” and “bad” from my productivity or lack thereof). The thing is, I’m an overachiever who has for many years tried to “achieve” at things that I personally don’t care about, or as my therapist says, did not resonate with me.
To a point, yes, we all have to do a little of this in life. Really, does doing the laundry or driving the morning commute through four feet of snow resonate with anyone? No. (Unless it does, in which case, all power to you!)
But it’s the bigger picture that matters: doing laundry so you are comfortable presenting yourself publicly (or just to have those nice clean flannel pajamas to wear) or suffering the commute to get to a job you love, or maybe don’t love for itself but love how it supports and feeds your family. There are levels to it, and complexities that are entirely individual to the person.
Anyway, my point is, the bigger picture for me was always something I genuinely hated. Jobs I hated, mostly; jobs that I took out of desperation or an idea that I could be successful at it if I tried. For instance, graphic design; I studied graphic design, and I honestly love marketing. I’m creative and visual and most of my friends told me for years that I was a “natural” who just needed to get a job or do work on the side to find my bliss.
But every exposure I had to graphic design and marketing as a business was uncomfortable for me; I did not like the industry and how cut-throat it is, and honestly I found most clients – you know, the people who PAY you – to be insufferable. I knew I’d either become successful, stressed-out and miserable, or find a low-end, low-stress job with a marketing firm and never live up to my potential nor make much money. It was totally LOSE/LOSE, every which way.
Still, I continued with a plan to study graphic design and putting in for jobs, both because it was expected of me and because I did not think I had any other options.
The thing is – and here we finally come to the anger issue – my other option was there all along: writing stories. I can’t tell you how many stories I started but never finished because “it doesn’t count”. I was not one of those writers who looked at the publishing industry (as it was fifteen, ten, five years ago) and saw it as a mountain to climb. I looked at what was popular (as opposed to what I was writing), the difficulties in finding an agent and a publisher, and my stash of rejection letters and responded by repeatedly giving up before I was even halfway up the slope.
But here’s the thing: you can’t repeatedly give up unless you repeatedly keep trying. And somehow I did that without ever actually noticing. (Oh, the human brain is a lovely piece of bentwork. *sigh*)
The dream was always there, resonating with me at a very basic level and returning every time everything else fell apart. Eventually, and for a variety of reasons, I’ve gotten past the self-defeat, sold some short stories and am working on longer stories. I write nearly 3k words a day now, come hell or high water because I consider myself a professional and that’s just what you do if writing is your job.
I’m angry, though, because if I had at least kept writing I’d have several finished novels to sell/publish right now. I’m happy with publishing my romance stories via publishers like Dreamspinner and Decadent, although I think eventually I will also have my own, self published stories to sell under that pseudonym. Also, I want to self-publish my speculative fiction under my own name. But I’ve got NOTHING finished, among the literally hundreds of thousands of words that I have written.
I know, the secret to success here is not to dwell on the past, buck it up and finish those stories. But emotions are tricky, and I’m trying to focus on writing while seething in frustration about my writing. It’s not pretty.