There are times when you have to step back and look at yourself: your self-image, your mental abilities, your confidence.
In the world of selfies, where people post images with captions, “I look like hell,” but post them anyway, it makes you take a closer look at self-evaluation. If you really thought you looked like crap, you wouldn’t post them. Obviously the poster likes the way they look, and then I wonder if they have a higher opinion of themselves than they should.
Wow, Erica! What a horrible thing to say!!!
Bear with me, here. I’ll get to my point shortly.
Anyone who has paid attention to my postings in the past month or so, knows I’m rewriting my Mistress & Master of Restraint Series- FROM SCRATCH. What a humbling, crippling experience. So I will explain my self-evaluation and a false sense of confidence comment.
Erica has taken a step back and did some major self-evaluation these past few months. In the now, you feel great about yourself: I look good. I feel good. I’m smart. This book is fabulous. Right? Isn’t that how you feel when you look into the mirror of yourself?
A few years ago, I was a bigger girl, and I felt confident about myself. I thought I looked good. (Now, don’t go tar and feathering me, as if I’m saying my size was a reflection of me as a human being. That is NOT where I’m headed with this blog post. I’m long-winded, I’ll get to the point eventually.) Anyway, I was a size 18/20 and quickly gaining ground on the next size up. At the time, I was working on changing my life, all aspects. So I lost weight, dropping down to a 10/12. Yay for me, right? Not really. Because there is fallout from that as well. You start to feel shitty about who you used to be because you still feel like shit now. When I look at pictures of myself- new pictures- I think I look bad. So then I start to question my own sanity. I thought I looked good in images from several years ago, several sizes larger, yet now I feel like crap when I look at myself. Was I thinking clearly back then, then?
My entire life I’ve thought myself as intelligent: quick to learn knowledge that I easily retained. Smarty pants. Know-it-all. With the mistakes I’ve made in the past, where I objectively look at my actions and reactions to the stimulation around me, at the time I felt I was making the proper decisions. Now I think I was a flippin’ idiot.
A stupid, stupid girl.
With the M&M rewrite has came a LOT of fallout, especially to my confidence in all things. In order to grow in my craft and as a person, I had to admit defeat. I had to recognize my faults. I had to take the bitter consequences of my actions. I had to look at myself in the mirror and say, “You suck. You f*cking suck, Erica!” Then, and only then, could I move on.
This new humbled, self-effacing person is now indecisive- demoralized. With my confidence destroyed, laying amongst the deleted words of my manuscripts, my world view has shifted.
The Erica from the past thought herself smart, average looking, and confident in her abilities to do her job. The Erica from the present disputes those claims as she cleans up the messes from the past Erica. The Erica from the future is shaking her head, clearly disappointed, and she’s shouting, “Don’t do anything stupid. Don’t make me redo your work because you’re an idiot. Don’t make me stand in front of the mirror and say, ‘I suck. I f*ckin’ suck!’ Don’t make me clean up your messes because you had a bloated self-image!”
Yes, future Erica is a bit pessimistic and bitter, while past Erica was naive, and present Erica is just… resolved.
Where does this leave me, present Erica?
Rolling along, doubting myself, because the past predicts the future. The Restraint I’m writing today (from scratch) will be a Restraint I’m proud of today. But I fear that future Erica will be embarrassed by it, and will want to go back in time and kick my behind. Just as present Erica longs to do to past Erica.
As I go back to Restraint, where I’ve deleted 3 out of every 4 words and replaced them with new, I know I can only do what I am capable of as of today. Tomorrow I may be better. But when it’s all said and done, Restraint will be a reflection of who I am today, and future Erica will have a different reflection of herself within a new book. But for the past Erica’s honor and reputation, present Erica and future Erica have joined forces, refusing to allow their naive, younger self to be demoralized and humiliated.
I’m sure I will doubt myself next week, next year, a lifetime from now. But that shows the ability to recognize my faults and grow. If I truly had a bloated self-image, I’d destroy myself with my narrow view. The only thing I have in common with future Erica, at this time, is the fact that my world view is 360 degrees.
I can’t speak how this is for all writers, but I can speak for myself. Fans are the driving force for me, while writing is the compulsion. I write because I must. There is no getting around it.
When I was a teenager I’d get my journal out and pour my soul onto the pages. As a teenager, I wasn’t much different than I am now, so that journal wasn’t used often because I’d feared people reading it. Always been a bit paranoid and pessimistic. I lucked out that I had an English Teacher that made us write our asses off. Honors English had a larger course load than it’s counterpart. I wrote- a lot. I also wrote a lot of dark poetry to take the edge off. I started my first novel at age 14- Philadelphia- after a teenage girl with the same name. Sadly, I’ve lost that budding manuscript.
I’d place my father’s hand-me-down crappy typewriter on my bed, pull up my white metal folding chair and get to work. Whiteout! Whiteout is my friend. & thank you, baby Jesus, that I have laptops now. I heart the backspace and delete buttons!!! I hated, HATED writing with a typewriter and my hands are fragile- weak- I HATED long-hand as well.
My next foray into writing was love notes, or maybe hate notes is more accurate. I’d pour page after page of teenage angst into letters and hand them off to my at-the-time future-husband, now future-ex-husband. I will happily say that I moved up into the world by writing these masterpieces in the privacy of word processing class *snickers* *cough cough* (I had 100% in both of the classes I took with this teacher- WP & Accounting) My typing/Accounting teacher was impressed with my skills- I had enough practice. & I spent half the day in that room my senior year.
…& since I was still a control freak back then with OCD tendencies, I had a favorite keyboard. If my keyboard wasn’t at my station, I’d go to all 30+ computers until I found it, unplug the bitch, and take it. The teacher would patiently wait until I found it- by mid-semester, I had help locating the bitch. It was a softtouch keyboard- no clickity-clackity sounds. I can still feel the smooth texture beneath my fingertips. I also cleaned the keys everyday. The other students knew better than to complain- by the end of the year, they were handing it to me when I entered the room, like an offering. Gotta love underclassmen. I wasn’t the only one obsessed with this keyboard because someone was jacking my keyboard on a daily basis during the previous class… or maybe it was someone who was jerking my chain.
I only ever had one disagreement with that teacher & I believe that she never even checked my work, just automatically gave me 100%. I never use the right-hand shift or use my right thumb for the spacebar. After about 20 nagging sessions of her complaining about this, she learned never to argue with me- I’m stubborn and left-handed- and never lose an argument. To this day, that right-hand shift has never been utilized and I’ve worn holes in the left-hand side of my spacebar on every laptop I own.
Ah! I loved that class and that daft teacher. It was where I first learned the system of student id numbers and hacked into accounts and deleted certain people’s saved work… or just read their private shit. It was so easy and oh so tempting. You really shouldn’t give out id’s by alphabetical order and siblings. After a few tries, I figured out the system. Yes, I have a bit of Regina in me…. and a whole heluva lot of Syn.
My writing continued on with the Hate notes- as a married woman to a man that drove her batshit-fucking-crazy, there was plenty of hate notes. One time it was 20+pages- hand written, so you know I meant business since I hate writing long-hand. When I got my laptop, I used to write him hate notes and never print them. I had a whole file of the bastards. Since I’m no longer with him, you could say I had plenty of complaints.
(Btw, I am a very quiet, nice person. Above kinda paints me in a bitch-light. I will do and do and I’m a great friend. But I am not passive-aggressive. You disrespect me and you won’t like the consequences. I can only be a doormat for so long. So any wrong-doing on my part was instigated by a heluva lot of nastiness on their part. They learned to not mess around w/the quiet girl that was smarter than them. I also never told them how or why their work was gone. It added an extra feeling of pleasure as they tried to figure out what the hell happened. It just POOF-ed into thin air! I also will use the hormonal teenage girl defense.)
My writing reminds me of steam from a pressure cooker- without it, I would explode or maybe, implode. At the end of my marriage, I started reading like a lunatic and finally started writing again, not hate notes but an actual novel. It wasn’t until after I left my husband that I realized this was the path I wanted to take in life. Writing isn’t a career choice, it’s a lifestyle.
I write every day. It may not be on a manuscript- blog posts, emails and messages, lists and goals. Regardless of what, I write at least a couple thousand words a day. It’s my release.
That is why I write, but the Fans are the ones that inspire me to keep writing stories. Often there are times that I feel discouraged. Not with writing- I will always write. But with sharing my written words- my stories. Reviews, hate mail, passive-aggressive helpful hints, bitch slaps through the laptop screen- they are very demotivational. I can always just write something to relieve the pressure- it doesn’t have to be a novel. But the true fans take that need to write and transform it into a universe worth visiting.
My fans put a grin on my face that is so wide that my skin feels tight! On a daily basis I get emails, messages, blog and FB comments. Fans read my books and reread them again. It doesn’t feed my ego, it fills this empty place inside of me that longs to create. I’ve virtually met so many interesting, inspiring people. Reading discussion threads that I long to dive in and join but fear I will reveal too much or seeing one fan turn another reader into a fan drives me, forces me, to keep writing when I feel discouraged. I love that I create that feeling within my readers that Richelle Mead, LKH, and Harrison elicited within me when I chatted with my bookmates. I’m not saying I’m on their level, but it feels damn fine to know that I’m eliciting emotions and long-lasting thoughts within my readers’ minds!
There is another type of reader that pulls my heartstrings. The type of reader I am as well. I’ve been contacted by countless readers about my dark subject matter. I use writing as an outlet for emotions that I can’t explain or understand. I read for that same reason. Victims of violence reach out to me and thank me for helping them sort out these feelings- while they may not have words to put with the emotions, they find a way to cope- a way to turn the victim mentality to living the life of a survivor .
My female characters are never weak. Several are submissive, males too. But I don’t find submission a weakness, it’s a choice. My characters go through painful life-altering events and come out the other side empowered and filled with hope. I feel a sense of contentment knowing I can give that to my readers.
That is the why of it- why I write and why I write stories. Hope you enjoyed a look into my twisted mind!