Writing, Motivation, and Fear

Here I am, making a public commitment to writing again! I just caught up with a high school friend I hadn’t seen in months. One of the things we did together in the past is served as editing buddies for each other for our NaNoWriMo novels. It was actually extremely effective and motivating to get stuff written and get excited about our stories.

We just decided to be writing buddies again! I’m excited to get back into writing, but also apprehensive. I feel a bit like I have a fear of commitment in writing- not wanting to commit to a project in case it isn’t good or isn’t the “right” one. My friend has been working on editing the same novel I helped her edit two years ago. I wrote another one in the meantime, and now want to start fresh writing a third. To be fair, my novel idea is one I tried to novelize before (and failed miserably), have been thinking about for awhile, and just finished a Pathfinder campaign in this setting.

But still. It makes me think Is this the right project? Am I choosing the right thing to spend my time on? I’m going to outline this one before I just jump into the writing. I started some outlining work and have a LOT of questions still about the way this story is going to go. I know a lot of the characters, but there are already a lot and I will probably need more. I also don’t exactly know who the main characters will be and from those who the POV characters will be. As I’m thinking about the overarching plot for the story- there are three major plots and it’s kind of a complex story. It makes me wonder if it is too much for a single novel or if it should really be a trilogy or some other number of serial books.

That question terrified me enough to stop my outlining and write this blog post instead of finishing my outlining first like I had planned.

That question also makes me angry. I’m angry at myself for doubting myself. I’m frustrated that every time I start making progress on something I love, I doubt myself. I stop. I don’t trust myself. It’s hard to understand why. It’s even harder to combat it.

So I’m making a pledge here and now to work on this novel, this project. If it’s the “wrong” one, I won’t have wasted time. I will have learned a lot of things about outlining and about writing. I will enjoy working on this project, even if I don’t edit it and even if I never publish it. Even if it’s three books. Even if it should have been three books but I wrote it in one. I’m giving myself advance permission to fail. It’s okay if this book is terrible. It’s okay if nothing ever comes of it. It’s okay to write because I like writing. It’s okay for this book to not even be good enough to submit to be published.

I’m giving myself permission to write for myself. To not be perfect. To not succeed. To put in a lot of effort, even if it comes to nothing- or less than I expected.

Hopefully these permissions will be enough to finish this project- however long it takes. That’s what success will look like for me.

Dreams and Disappointment

I’ve been avoiding writing this post for awhile because of how strongly I feel about it, but I just really need to get it out there.

Ever since I was in high school, it was my dream to go to Japan. Once I studied abroad there, I kept thinking about how to get back. I wanted to do the JET program after I graduated (teaching English in Japan), but it didn’t work out with graduate school. Finally, when I found out I could take students to Japan for Study Abroad, I was ecstatic. I worked with a good friend to make the trip happen.

At work, I’ve defined myself strongly based on this goal. I told all my fellow faculty and students about it. I decorated my office with Japanese paraphernalia, I started making plans for going to Japan every other year and doing my sabbatical there on a faculty exchange program. Faculty see me and ask about the program, send me articles about Japan, send their students to interview for this program.

I cannot tell you how excited I was to go to Japan this past May on my Exploratory trip with my friend/colleague. I talked about it to everyone. I posted photos every day and kept a blog for students to follow.

My friend and I had some conflict on the trip- to me, this seemed a normal part of any friendship, especially while traveling so closely together for so long. But she didn’t feel the same way. Instead of handling it with me, she brought it to the attention to some key people on campus. As a result, both she and I were taken off the trip.

I didn’t know how to feel at first. Partly relieved, because it was amazingly stressful to have the conflict go on for months instead of having it handled between the two of us back in May. Partly pissed, because this didn’t need to be escalated to the extent it was. Partly hurt, because it felt like a really good friend had betrayed me- not just personally, but professionally as well.

Today, I got the email they are sending to students. I’m happy for the students that they will still get to go and the leaders who are replacing us are wonderful people- the students will have a great time with them. But until I read that email it was easy for me to pretend like I was still going. Like I still got to live my dream. But now it’s real. I can’t deny the fact that I’m not taking students to Japan next summer. That I lost a friend.

I have to figure out how to tell people in my professional life. How do I reconcile my enthusiasm and passion for this trip with my inability to go? How will they judge me for being involved with this? How do I make this a part of my narrative in a way that helps me grow and learn ? I honestly have no idea. I’m scared for school to start, scared to see faculty outside of my department on campus and have to talk about this.

I have to figure out where to re-direct my energy. What will I be involved with this year? What will I do with all of this energy and enthusiasm I had for the program? What will my professional narrative be now that Japan has been cut out of it?

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not giving up on my dream. This is a temporary setback- in three years, I’m aiming for it to be me going with the students. I still want to do this program. I still want to do my sabbatical in Japan. I won’t give up.

But I have to sit back for now and watch someone else live my dream. And as much as I know they’ll do a good job with what I built, I can’t help wishing it were me there instead.