I was so excited the other day, I posted this on FB.
I’ve been writing this book for-fucking-ever. No, really. And I got to a point where I could see the end. I couldn’t believe it. The whole reason I wanted to write the book was because I wanted to end it in a certain way, and I’m at 60K, and it’s time to write the end. I was elated, and THEN…
Because I can’t write the end until I edit the parts I just rushed through. I’ve lost the thread. I don’t know who my characters are or what they want in those hurriedly-written scenes. This is my process: I write and write, and then I figure out what I’ve written until I can write again. Of course it took me a couple of days of beating myself up for not making any progress to realize this. And, as my friend and fellow writer Jessica Topper pointed out, this is just my process with this book, but whatever. This is why I decided to finish the damn book before I did anything with it, so I could take all the time I wanted to make it fun.
Ceasing being hard on myself for not meeting my own wildly unrealistic expectations is more difficult than finishing the book. I can finish the book. I know I can. But can I do it without making myself and everyone around me miserable? THAT is the question. Because the real accomplishment is living each moment of a very busy day/week/month with kindness, caring, and humor.
Which is what I decided, oh…a year and a half ago and forgot. AGAIN. Oh, wait, make that two years because I wrote this in July of 2014. *Head kitchen table*
Don’t you wish you could have an epiphany and make it stick? I do. I swear I’ve been learning the same thing over and over every five minutes for years. I kind of thought I’d have my shit together by now, but NOPE. Nope, nope, nope.
What the hell…maybe nobody does.
I’ve been pondering the fact that I tend to put myself down first in order to beat everybody else to the punch. Whether it’s a new cake I’ve designed at work, a finished manuscript, a lesson plan, a list of completed tasks, or WHATEVER, I’ll point out what’s wrong with it instead of what’s right. I ignore the good stuff and take to heart all the criticism. My inner child believes I do this because nothing SHE ever did was good enough. She suggests it’s a form of self-protection. Judge thyself harshly, and the judgement of others will hurt less.
It doesn’t work.
Guess what? All judgement is not created equal. Critics have their own issues and inner-children driving them to behave badly. It’s possible, even likely, that their opinion has nothing to do with you. So you shouldn’t let it ruin your day or send you into a shame spiral of self-loathing. Because their opinion doesn’t matter. You know why?
Here’s the tricky part: you aren’t trying to please them. Not really. You’re trying to please yourself, and if you’ve already decided you suck, then you can’t ever do a good enough job because you will always find your flaws. Vicious cycle. I know I’m not the first one to say these things, but I’m living them. Maybe you are, too.
If so, I offer you this: You are not one thing. You are many things. Some of them are AMAZING and some of them are flawed. The flaws are FINE. They make you likable and approachable. It’s okay. No one sees you like you see yourself. They see the good stuff before the bad. Crazy, right? It’s true. Try it. Reject the voice inside telling you you’re not good enough. CHOOSE to be happy with yourself and your work.
It might feel like the most subversive and daring thing you’ve ever done. It might make you cry. You might have to do it over and over. You might even have gray hair and still be doing it. You might despair of ever getting your shit together and keeping it together. But none of that shit matters. It never did. Be the happy ruler of your pile of scattered poop and go forth spreading kindness, caring, and good humor…to yourself…and then the WOOOOOORRRRRLD!
(And yes, in case you are wondering, the song “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with meeeeee…” is running through my head right now. It’s a nice break from “Cool Rider” from Grease 2.)
All commenters will be entered into my fall giveaway of a gift card to Amazon, B&N, or The Ripped Bodice, so let’s talk about the things that hold us back and how we jump, tunnel, fly, and run around, under, over, and through them.