I'll be honest, I was in a really dark mood this week. There was this nasty voice in my ear, berating me for every single thing I did or didn't do. I mean, nasty. I went through my subbing jobs, and all I kept hearing was how I was absolutely spineless, how I couldn't get the kids to listen to me, etc, etc.. And I hardly even need mention the internal cringing I felt every time I opened The Changelings in order to proof read it. I wanted to die at every single mistake.
Now, since I've turned thirty or so, I've had this constant voice in my head telling me what a loser I am. It usually comes creeping in on me in the middle of the night, right when I'm about to fall asleep. It's this weird jerk impulse that wakes me, a sense of unreality that I can't quite believe this is my life. It's fine in your twenties, if you don't know what you're doing, but in your thirties, you're supposed to pull it together and have everything figured out, not to mention actually having everything. A career. A family. A car. Your own place. And I don't. Late at night this hits me upside the head, and I think, Where the hell did I go wrong in life?
I wonder if I'd be better off not following my dream.
Sometimes I'm angry at everyone who blindly told me they believed in me, at all those self-help books written by people who were successful before they wrote their damn book and then had a midlife crisis and decided to follow their dream. Do what you love, they said, but did they warn me that doing what I loved would get me no money for decades?
They probably did, and I tuned them out, so really I can only be mad at myself. And I am. And then the voices of my perfectionistic self come roaring back.
Weirdly, this is going on right as I'm about to publish my book. I think it's brought on by the stress of having to essentially run a business: permits, taxes, distribution, launch parties, marketing, and social media, and don't forget to write every day. All the websites tell me to be profession, and I try, but how am I supposed to compete with actual publishing companies, who have people devoted to editing, who can launch a publicity campaign, who can get reviewers, who can get books into libraries and bookstores, who have accountants of their own?
And I really don't want to seem ungrateful, because it's not like my life has turned out horrible. I have people who have supported me, who do believe in me. My parents says they're proud of me, my dad's my biggest fan of my book, my writer's group has thrown themselves into promoting my book. And when I think about why I wrote, why I felt I had to get this book out, it was because I had this idea that I could die at any moment, and if that were to happen, if I had one thing to give to the world, it was my writing. I was going to write a book come hell or high water.
One good thing about being old is knowing that this isn't the first time I've sat and cried because things weren't going my way. Hell, I've done it since high school. When I was in Japan, when everything looked so rosy, I cried because I was lonely, I cried because I felt that I'd never finish my novel, I cried because I was afraid of what I was going to have to sacrifice to be a writer, I cried because I didn't know what I was doing with my life.
These things often happen because I'm going through a moment where I know change is coming, and I have to break myself against whatever difficulties I'm up against, if I'm going to take risks and try new things. I want to be honest, it's hard to follow your dream, and in that moment when things are hardest, you're alone. It doesn't matter how many people are behind you, you have to make that decision by yourself. And it doesn't matter how many people have gone in front of you or how clearly they've marked the trail, the first time you climb that mountain, you feel like the first person to ever do it. Because it's new to you.
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And now, because this whole rant has been dark and depressing, I want to tell you about a dream I had on Friday morning that changed my perspective a bit and made me feel happy.
I dreamed I was a model, much skinnier than now, but not freakishly so. I was healthy and beautiful and I remember I just glowed with confidence. Nothing could get me down.
I went to the salon to get a makeover and out came the rudest hair-dresser ever. He had this look of utter disdain and said I couldn't possibly be a model. For the most part I was ignoring him, because who cared? But then, he said I had no talent, and that rankled me. I pointed out that I wrote a book, and he started to mock it.
At which point, I sprang out of the salon chair and chewed him out. I called him stupid, that he didn't know what he was talking about, that he didn't have a high school degree, that I had a Batchelor's Degree and read Faust last week. And I just went on insulting him.
Now, I've had dreams where I've thrown a tantrum, trying to get people to acknowledge me, and they just ignore me. But not this time. The hair-stylist gaped at me with his jaw dropped, unable to come back with a single remark, while everyone in the salon stared. Damn, did I feel good to see everyone stare at me. I felt like I did back in high school drama class, when I went from the quiet girl to Lady MacBeth in the space of a single monologue. "Yeah, I can do crazy," I told the salon and sat down nicely.
I woke up feeling radiant, like that dream confidence had infected me. And the weird thing was, this dream had come out of nowhere, right in the middle of the worst of the self-hatred. I swear, it was a gift from God, like he was gently reminding me of all that I could really be. At the same time, I first began to notice how self-destructive the criticism had become.
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I think the reason I've been going through this now is because May's going to be a stressful month. The Changelings comes out in June, and for all that I tried to get everything ready early, it hasn't. In addition, I have Lightning in a Bottle at the end of May, and it's also my last chance to score subbing jobs before the summer drought.
If I fall behind on my blogs this month, please forgive me. I'm just going through stressful times