Earlier this week I hit another milestone – I sent four people digital copies of my novel. On Monday, I will have printed copies for the three people who preferred a physical copy to mark up. A bit later than the November deadline I set for myself, but the deadline did what it was really meant to, which was getting me to take action.

There’s an odd combination of excitement and dread in this sharing. I’m excited to get feedback finally, after 20+ years of this story living nowhere but my head. I know my mother has already read the first few chapters, and that’s kind of thrilling. But oh, the fear and dread, constant companions of my heart.

There is so much of me in that book, more than in my short stories. It’s a deeply personal thing if you know where to look, and some of my chosen alpha readers do know. Add to that the massive edits and rewrites I know are coming, and there is much to dread.

I know it’s necessary, that’s never a question. The question is always about whether or not I’m up to what’s coming. I can (and do) tell myself the old adage about having survived 100% of my days so far, but there’s only so much comfort in that. Sometimes the constant uphill is tiring, and I wish things could just level out and be less work for a while.

A friend I hadn’t seen in a while asked me yesterday about my writing, and what it is I feel I get out of it. I told her that it’s hard to explain, but when I’m writing I just feel like I’m doing what I’m made to do. There’s a bit in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series where a character is trying to explain why he does a thing he has a knack for, even though it has dire consequences. His answer is thus:

“Because talent won’t be quiet, doesn’t know how to be quiet,” he said. “Whether it’s a talent for safe-cracking, thought-reading, or dividing ten-digit numbers in your head, it screams to be used. It never shuts up. It’ll wake you in the middle of your tiredest night, screaming, ‘Use me, use me, use me! I’m tired of just sitting here! Use me, fuckhead, use me!”

Pardon the language, but it captures the essence of how I feel about it. I don’t take “talent” to necessarily mean I’m good at writing, but more to denote that it’s the form my thoughts take. Sure, I didn’t write for 20 years, but that whole time my brain yelled at me. Ideas gnawed and demanded I jot them down, my fingers itched to type and string sentences together, characters whispered their motivations to me in quiet hours. It never stopped, and eventually it overcame the things that held me back. It begged to be used. A hammer is made for striking nails, and I’m made to write stories.

What I’m circling my way around to is that the constant uphill battle with myself to get things done is exhausting sometimes. But ultimately, it is what I’m made for, and it’s hard to begrudge the work when it’s finished. I have yet to step back from one of my stories and say “Ugh! What was I thinking?” They might need some tweaking, but generally I’m pretty pleased with myself. I’m doing what I’m made to do, and there is satisfaction in that, no matter how much work there is.

2 thoughts on “The Constant Uphill

  1. Annie

    Love this.

  2. Stephen Whiteley

    Go girl! Create! It doesn’t matter who reads it! Just love what you do! Loving my nieces to pieces! 🙂😇🥰❤

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