I may have mentioned before how I work full time and go to grad school part time. So, when does that leave time for writing? The answer is virtually never, and it kind of eats at me sometimes. There are some nights after work and studying that I do have a couple of hours to myself where I do have time to write, but I don’t take advantage of it. Instead, I catch up on TV or reading. Does this make me a bad writer? I don’t practice my craft as often as I should. I know I shouldn’t get too down on myself for this because the truth is, I’m mentally exhausted after work and studying, but is that just an excuse? Then again, is it fair to my characters and stories and poetry if I try to work on them when my brain is fried?
I recently completed a poetry chapbook manuscript that I’ve been working on for over a year. It felt so strange to finally finish something that it left me with a sense of doubt as to if it was really finished and ready to be sent out into the world. Maybe the full-time worker/part-time grad student is the excuse I give myself to procrastinate on finishing something, because once I’m done, am I really done? Is it really ready? I imagine even full-time writers have this anxiety. Artists never truly feel like their work is ready for the world to see. Or maybe we just feel like the world isn’t ready to see our work? How many times do we see a look back on some work and see critics say, “It was ahead of its time.”? Nobody wants posthumous recognition.
So, here I am with a completed manuscript, and I haven’t done anything with it since I finished it a week ago. Granted, I spend 10 hours working, including the commute. Then, I have to take a break when I get home, otherwise I’ll lose my mind. Then it’s off to do reading or answer discussion questions or research current events or work on a term paper, and by the time I’m finished it’s 9 p.m. and yeah that makes me seem like an old lady, but it’s close to bed time and all I wanna do is read my book club book because I borrowed it from the library and I gotta finish it within a certain time frame. How did I even finish that manuscript? Oh yeah, at the pace of an animal I’d imagine as a hybrid between a sloth and a turtle. Slow and steady wins the race? Is it a race? I know I shouldn’t think of it as such, but when I just turned 27 and I’ve considered myself a writer since high school and I’ve barely had anything published, does that make me a loser?
For anyone experiencing what I am, I’m sorry I don’t have clear answers for the questions posed. I suppose there is no right answer though, and everyone has to come to their own conclusions to get them through the writers’ process. That’s different than the writing process, as the two are not the same. Writing and being a writer that is. How do you all deal with the existential dread of calling yourselves writers?