The Fear

I have wanted to be an author for a very long time and have been working on novel drafts since 2009/2010. That’s nine years ago, give or take, which seems crazy to me.

Undoubtedly, a lot has happened in that time, not least of which, I have improved my writing and related skills.

I’ve said before that the novel I’m working on at the minute (that I started at the beginning of 2017, I think) just feels right to me. I really think this is the one that could see me getting an agent and publisher. I’m also so close to finishing it; on the pinnacle of sending it off for submission. My beta readers have given me nothing but positive feedback (and I’m not even bribing them, promise!).

And here’s the thing: I am scared to go that last mile.

For all I’ve dreamed about coming to this point and talked almost incessantly about nothing else for months of my life at a time – and for all of the hugely terrifying, genuinely important things going on in the world for other people (like, you know, terrorism and Brexit) – I am currently gripped by the sudden realization that this is real. Or it could be.

I’ve built this up in my head and heart for so long, I… I’m not scared I’ll fail, I don’t think. I’m not sure what it is that’s behind the fear, I just know that it’s here and it’s making me hesitate.

Maybe I’m worried I’ll actually succeed – get an agent and publisher – and that it won’t live up to my expectations, which aren’t even that inflated, realistically. I’ve done my research. I’m under no illusions that I’ll become a rich and famous. And yet… there’s something.

For the very fact that I can’t pin down that ‘something’, it’s clear to me that this fear is not especially logical. I feel foolish about that, particularly given the fact that it’s like the first world-iest of all first world non-problems and there’s the aforementioned terrorism going on in other people’s lives. I have nothing to say for myself on that account other than, really, this is a big deal for me and I felt the need to acknowledge it before it ate me alive.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for sympathy here. Just airing my thoughts and feelings. (And why do I feel the need to justify sharing my own feelings on my own website? Well, I don’t. Note to Self: Your guilt complex is showing.)

Anyway – acknowledgement now done, I plan to ignore the fear, and I’m setting myself a deadline to get my sh*t together, which I’ve decided will be April, during Camp NaNoWriMo.

It would probably be even sooner than that, but I have a lot to wrap up in March with the end of the current term at the Crescent Arts Centre, my birthday, and a bunch of events I’m taking part in. But I will get there. I will!

Tears in Heaven: Eulogising Myself

To be read in the event of my death (read my previous blog post for context).

This may be obvious just by the fact that I wanted to write my own eulogy, but I’ve always revelled in being different; in doing the unexpected thing, and embracing my quirkiness.

I have always felt different – never quite fit in – but I like to think I learned to fake it when the occasion arose. Eventually.

It’s no secret that I had a dark, lonely childhood, except maybe to the few people who were around for it, who never seemed to notice. I don’t want to dwell on that, but I want to acknowledge it. It’s something I could never really escape and, as such, it became a part of my person, not to mention many, many poems.

Aside from Steve – who we all know is so perfect for me, it’s as if we were specifically sculpted by life to come together – words and stories have been the great love in my life. I said once, that there was a time I made a list of all the things I wanted to do, and it turned out to be a list of books I wanted to write.

There’s so much I could write here. I’m not entirely sure if this should be in third person, or if I should force it into past tense. No doubt, given the circumstances, the people I have left behind are negotiating that same challenge.

How do you deal with someone just being… gone? I don’t pretend to know, but I do try and plan ahead as much as possible.

As I sit here, in my first home with Steve, I try and think about what parting words I want to leave you all with. I think it can be fairly well summed up in these song lyrics by Linkin Park:

Weep not for roads untraveled
Weep not for sights unseen
May your love never end
And if you need a friend
There’s a seat here alongside me

[Roads Untraveled]

I want to just follow that up with the words of a poem:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

[Mary Elizabeth Frye]

Finally, continuing on a theme, I present you with my favourite quote:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” [Dr. Seuss.]

Which is not to say I’m adamant you don’t shed a tear for me, so much as I urge you to think about why you cry. If you cry for me, it must be because you cared. And that’s no bad thing.

I love you too.

Death Wishes

One of my ex-boyfriends found the idea of bucket lists really morbid and was horrified when I asked him, conversationally, what he wanted to achieve or do before he dies. (I’m always asking questions like that. It must be such smooth talk that helped me woo my husband.)

Given the reaction, I can only imagine how he (and no doubt others reading this) would feel about this blog post, which is going to be the first in a set of two. In one – this one – I want to outline my wishes for when I die. And in part two (which I’ll put out probably tomorrow, if I see it), I plan to share a eulogy for myself – written by myself, about myself (because who better to write it?) – to be read at my eventual funeral.

Cheery, cheery stuff, I think to myself, with a heavy dose of sarcasm; but here’s the thing: I don’t find thinking, or talking, or writing about death morbid. Not really. I find it fascinating, which is maybe morbid in itself, I guess.

Maybe it’s down to having been severely depressed for a lot of years, and suicidal on and off during that time, but I think about death a lot. I’ve formulated a lot of strong opinions about it. And – here’s the main, main thing – I am going to die. Everyone is. That’s not bad news, or good news; it shouldn’t even be news, just a simple fact. Facts hold no emotion. They don’t have to be scary.

Now, having just said that, I’m aware I’ve probably spooked a few people reading this already, so let be backtrack a bit before I proceed: I would just like to clarify that I am not currently depressed or suicidal, I don’t have some terminal condition, and I don’t particularly foresee myself dying in the near future. But it will come, at some point – maybe tomorrow, or next year, or before I finish writing this blog post. We don’t and can’t know when, but can be certain it will happen sooner or later. So, me being the very organized person that I am, I thought I would plan ahead and put my wishes down in black and white so there’s never any uncertainty about them. Also, I want to open a discussion, because I think talking about death before we have to face it is not only a good idea, but the most reasonable idea around.  Continue reading

February Update

For me, January felt like a too-long month but, despite the fact that it seemed to stretch and stretch, I never quite managed to fit in everything I had planned. I only finished reading one book (a novel-length piece of fan fiction) though I did listen to most of an audiobook, too. I finished it (Star Wartz by Patrick Tilley) in the early hours of this morning. So, here I am on the first of Feb. with two books off my 52 book goal for the year and five-thousand words written of my ten-thousand-word January goal.

I think it was getting sick right at the start of the year that threw me off. For about a week, all I could focus on was the physical pain I was in and whether I was going to be taken into hospital. The jury’s still out on that one. I may be sent back there tomorrow after I see my GP again, or I might have to wait a year – who knows?

On the plus side, after having to cancel the first week of my class, I started it a week late and it is going well. My task for tomorrow is to put in a proposal for next term. Now that my taxes are (finally!) in, I can really focus on it.

Maybe I can even get back to writing fiction after that. I certainly hope so!