And I’m wearing them.
Over the summer I posted about an idea I had for a novel. Not exactly a new idea, it would involve a complete revamp/rewrite of a manuscript I wrote a few years ago. I lamented in advance about all the work that would entail, the time, the energy, the damned hope. I didn’t know if I wanted to. I decided to put the idea to the side and see if both the idea and the urge faded away or took root. It’s taken root, but I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do the work. A couple of weeks ago I wrote an opening, a few hundred words. Not enough for me to call it a WIP (work in progress). The night before Thanksgiving, I decided I absolutely needed to go right then to the neighborhood where it’s set to take some photos, so I can decide exactly where my imaginary house will be in my imaginary manuscript. Just in case, you understand.
While I haven’t been working on anything, I still go on the writer’s forum. I’ve got several friends on there, I’ve been a member for a long time, and there’s a healthy amount of silliness that takes place in the off topic sections. I still read all the threads directly related to writing, though I rarely post on them. So the other morning I was having my second cup of pre-dawn espresso and surfing the writing threads in an attempt to take a break from political overload, and I saw a doozy of a post. Actually, it was a few posts, and I don’t even remember what the thread was supposed to be about in the first place. Someone referenced a sad blog post they had read, about a woman who had been trying to get published for twenty years and was giving up. No other details given, I have no idea who the blogger referenced is, or any of the details of her story.
Imagine my surprise to see a response that said something to the effect of, perhaps readers are lucky she’s giving up, if she couldn’t get anywhere with all that time. Hmmm. Someone else wanting to know what she was doing for all that time. Someone else assuming her work must be poor. And someone else referencing that she’d been failing longer than they’d been alive, and she should try something else. Well, let me just say Mrs Fringe had quite a difficult time restraining herself from sending them to their rooms. (no, I’m not a mod there and have 0 authority) Maybe the time out corner, for 7 or 12 or 17 years. Or as I like to call the time-out corner, life. Again, I have no idea what else was going on in that woman’s life over the course of those twenty years, how much time was spent actually writing, or submitting. It doesn’t matter, because one thing I’m sure of is that writing wasn’t the only thing she was doing. Because life does happen, to all of us, whether we’re creative geniuses, no talent hacks, prim and proper accountants or women of a certain age.
Even though I wasn’t actually a part of the conversation, and no one was actually speaking to me, I was annoyed. Feeling sensitive, because they’re asking the same questions and making the same deprecating comments I’ve been making about myself. Some of it has to do with the writing, yes, questioning the value of my words and stories. How do you measure the value of these things, anyway? Because that, I think, is the crux of it for me. What is the value? If there is no measurable value without success, what is my value? Being a woman of a certain age without clear markers of success, feeling the negative pressure, maybe I’m supposed to just fade out quietly; stop making a fuss, stop dreaming, move out of the way of the younger generations, and for God’s sake stop cursing so much. Well, that last part is never going to fucking happen.
I don’t know if I’m going to write that manuscript. But if I don’t, it won’t be because of how many years have or have not passed since I first said hey, I’d like to see my words in a book, on a shelf, and be paid a dollar for them. I’ve been busy.