A Writer’s Woes like a Rockpile

This post isn’t so much about writing; it’s more of a PSA about mental health. I had one of those mild breakdowns this week, and this is one way of working through it, and if it helps someone else along the way, awesome.

Ever get that not-good-enough feeling? I know I do. I complain about it every so often. I start counting my faults and fears, and they keep popping up like stars on a clear night; one fears leads to a dozen more.

What if I never get anywhere with this writing career? What if it’s all just a joke? What if I’m pouring all this time, energy, and money into something that will never take off? What if I’m working a mind-numbing 9-5 job for the rest of my life and all these books of mine are just piling up on the online market with nowhere to go? What if the world falls apart and I can’t publish because the world has gone Fallout 3 on us?

What if I never find ‘the one?’ What if I end up in one dead-end relationship after another for the rest of my life? What if I’m fifty and still sleeping alone? I won’t have anyone to eat meals with, talk about life with, or watch a movie with, or anything; it’ll just be me. What if I never get to plan a wedding, or a bridal shower, or wear that ‘bride-to-be’ sash? What if I never get to plan a fun way to tell my parents that I’m pregnant? I’ll get old and die and no one will know because no one comes to look for me. What if my friends find jobs elsewhere and move? I’ll be totally alone. I don’t want to be that weird forty year old woman still living at home. I don’t want to be stuck at home taking care of my aging parents while my friends are sending their kids to college and planning weddings and looking forward to grandkids.

All these what-ifs pile up like one of those roadside gravel pits. This past Tuesday was when all the rocks hit me and buried me underneath. Listing them out makes it all seem silly; if I don’t get married then I don’t get married. There are plenty of jobs out there. The odds of my writing career pulling in enough money to be a full-time writer are slim to none, and expecting overnight success will only lead to disappointment and a feeling of rejection from the reading community.

And comparing yourself to J. K. Rowling is never, ever, EVER a good idea. Sure, her life before Harry Potter sucked. Have you heard about it? She didn’t get into college, had a miscarriage, fell into an abusive marriage, got divorced, living off welfare, and thought about suicide – then she wrote Harry Potter and everything got better.

When we expect things to turn out a certain way, more often than not we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Those overnight success stories are rare; they happen, but not all the time.

When I’m in this funk, I try and list my positives which sometimes works. Sometimes it only points out the negatives. I mean, I’ve published two novels (of questionable quality) of a series, I’m near competition on another, and I’m almost finished with my MFA in Creative Writing. Those are some cool accomplishments; I am proud of those things which I’ve poured myself into. This is what I have to show for my life so far. If I keep up this pace, by the time I’m fifty I’ll have thirty out.

What’s the saying? Stop worrying about what you can’t control? Something like that. Or…that might be from a T Swift song. I’m not sure. I’ve had Red and 1989 on repeat for about a week now.

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