The Year of Finishing Things

It is very late into January, and everyone has already written their posts focusing on what they’ll start this year. I would like to write about an end. Let me explain.

April 2020

woman in black shirt holding orange ceramic mug
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

This is the time that I really started to understand that Covid-19 was a thing. I hadn’t been in the office since March 15th, but it was late April that I really started to feel like I could die from it.

Everyone around me, however, kept on working like nothing was happening. There were no “is everything okay?” check-ins, everyone kept to their timelines, work quality was about the same from everyone…else. Personally, I wasn’t doing so great. 

Anxiety kept me from sitting through even one full meeting since April. I regretted never having finished a single novel, never pursuing writing seriously, and here I was with the very real threat of dying everywhere around me. So (after spending way too much time panicking about this) I started a blog. I decided I was going to go all in as soon as I possibly could. 

The blog

I spent a lot of time at the beginning writing a backlog of posts. That way I could simply schedule them to go up each week while I went back to writing fiction. I kept holding onto this excuse for much longer than I should have, but I did manage to develop a writing habit and schedule. 

Even though I’ve been through writing classes and have written stories for most of my life, impostor syndrome demanded I stick to the basics if I ever wrote “how-to” posts. And since I was so busy writing those, I didn’t have a lot of time to do anything “writerly” to blog about like I wanted to.

Eventually I figured out how to fit writing fiction into my schedule. By that I mean I had a pretty deep backlog of posts to pick from and couldn’t realistically use that as my excuse anymore.

Because of my blog, I developed a massive self-consciousness about my fiction. Since I had the audacity to try to tell anyone how to write anything, I felt that all my writing needed to be perfect. All while telling others that “writing is rewriting” and “all first drafts are crap,” of course. This caused me to start and abandon a ludicrous amount of work.

Quittin’ time

person in black pants sitting on brown cardboard box
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Late October we finally got everything together financially to allow me to take a year off. The idea was basically to see where this goes. Just in time to start NaNoWriMo! Because the NaNoGods demand a virgin sacrifice, I chose to start a brand new novel (discarding the idea I’d been toying with already earlier in the year). 

But now, I was no longer bringing in any money. Time was ticking. I had zero submissions accepted, no novels written, barely any views or followers, and almost no interaction on any content I wrote. This is where I started to crush myself under the pressure. 

I say “crush myself” because my husband has had no hand in putting pressure on me. He has done nothing but be supportive through all of this. So I just…pressured myself enough for the both of us. 

Y’know, like ya do.

Cue the depression

woman lying on bed with pink and yellow floral pillow
Hooray…
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

This brought on the feelings of I can’t do this and I’m a total failure. I felt guilty for not making any money from this dream job and I felt stupid for trying to tell others anything about the craft. 

On top of all of that, I had physical illness creep into my life. So now I was sick, in pain, constantly tired, AND depressed while trying to keep working at a job that has yet to give me a payday. 

I know that no one should expect to start making a living wage off writing less than a year after taking it seriously. But I couldn’t help but keep reading all these articles about how this person wrote 100,000 words in a weekend or made 10,000 off their first month, and my stressed out brain just kept pointing back at itself saying, “why isn’t that you?”

Everything settled into a general feeling of burnout, so I just stopped for a week or so. I played a new game (Detroit: Become Human – I’m literally addicted to it), read a few books, played with my cats, tried to exercise a little…then came back ready to create a brand new (honestly ridiculous) writing routine to try to counter all the problems I had before.

I’ll write much more on it later, but know that it’s a work in progress.

A part of designing this new routine included the decision to go back to a novel I started in November 2009. Even after a decade, the general concept of this book and the world within it hadn’t completely left me. 

It was already outlined, mostly written, had characters and worldbuilding, and generally was okay. 

Just finish it, my rational mind urged. 

“FINISH ALL THE THINGS,”

my super excited side exclaimed. 

letters on yellow tiles forming the end text
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I have about 64 stories/poems/songs/rants just hanging out in my Drive folders. About 9 of these are unfinished novels. This isn’t even including all of the ideas I’ve jotted down but not started yet. I have enough to last me probably until I die, but I’ve decided to have a go at finishing as much of them as I can for at least a year.

The hope is that getting these pieces completed will be both satisfying and educational. If I also manage to sell a couple of them I wouldn’t complain.

In the process, I’m sure I’ll hit snags and roadblocks, find the occasionally piece of shit, or maybe even a few hidden gems. Any insights I gain or interesting tales I can tell you about this experiment I’ll happily share, since this’ll feel more authentic than posting writing tips every week. 

I understand that this kind of stems from impostor syndrome as well, but if it gets me back to writing and posting more consistently, I’ll take it.

Wish me luck.