The Tortured Writer

The tortured writer is me. Today. Typing these words. I want to work, but work won’t come. Why? A million little reasons.

In the last 12 months, I wrote six books. Words poured from my fingertips. I could not stop writing. I had to let them all out, these characters flitting about my brain like a cloud of fireflies. And, then I made the mistake of stopping for a heartbeat to relish my good fortune, following it up with a, “I shouldn’t say anything, I’ll probably get writer’s block.”

Guess what? The crash came swiftly behind those words, sweeping down the plains of my written-word verbosity like some great and much-storied Oklahoma wind. I should have learned my lesson by now.

Now, I’m eeking out lines, and forcing myself to edit. I’m reminding myself a dozen times a day – it only matters that you do something. Anything.

If I can’t write, I think to myself, I’ll work on building my social media presence. That counts, right? I mean, you can’t sell your work if no on knows you’re working.

Social media is weird for me, not natural. I’m an introvert. I know I need to be out here – networking, meeting peers, building a base. But, isn’t that why I’m a writer?

Communication is excruciating, so says my anxiety. Let the words do the talking, I tell myself. But, then I sit here and wonder, “What even is my voice?” What if my voice has the same rhythm and form as all of the others? Who will hear me? No one will.

Carving out a niche in this wild, infinite sea of other writers all longing to be heard, to be seen, to be READ, is maddening. I’ve tried it before and washed out after a couple of weeks. How do you find your chosen few, your tribe among all these other voices, when they seem so much better able to contend with … all of it? And you, you’d rather be plucking out your fingernails with pliers.

Between the blogs and other social media postings, when do they ever find time to write actual novels? Magic? Voodoo? Soul sold? Helpful doses of crack? Help an introverted, anxiety-riddled writer out. I am in foreign territory, a traveler in a strange new land, one I don’t particularly feel welcome in.

This whole – you must blog, tweet, Insta, etc … Exhausting. Social media is talking, pushing yourself to be bigger, brighter, funnier, sharper, edgier, a never-ending pageant to stand out. I can be as witty, sharp, snarky, and hilarious as the next person, I just can’t seem to do it on cue.

All I want to do is sit in my comfy room and write books, so that other people like me can perhaps read them and get lost for a while inside characters who aren’t always riddled with the pains of perpetual anxiety and the relentless cacophony of, “Is it even worth it?”

Now, see. All that blue-tinged word vomit above is my anxiety talking, again. I know it is. I know that to be successful you have to sell not just your work, but yourself. I know, more than ever, writers are expected to be their own PR firm.

It’s not that I don’t believe in my talent as a writer. I’m happy with my work. I love the stories I’m telling. I can see the potential in every piece. But, vicious anxiety will never allow me to wallow in the comfort of believing my own work is good, for too long.

“Oh, you’re bragging about how many books you’ve written this last year? You really dig what you’re writing? You think it’s good? Aren’t you special. Well, let me assure you, you’ll never get anywhere with them. Look at how many people are out there, all longing for the same recognition as you. You’re a good writer. I loved your work. Right. Get it straight, pretender. You’re not good enough. You read three different blog pieces today from writers who are far superior to you. You’ll never make it out of this comfy room. You aren’t a people person. The only one who thinks you’re funny is you. You might as well give up now. You suck. Why don’t you go buy a cake and stuff your feelings down with buttercream icing?”

My monster isn’t beneath the bed or hiding in the closet. My monster is the voice in my head, the one always waiting to kick me off a high and remind me I’m just a woman in a room recording words that no one really cares about.

I’m not just a writer, tortured, or otherwise. I’m a warrior, always fighting the unseen enemy, the one who whispers until I can’t think, can’t work, can’t sit still, can’t get away from. But, I’m always fighting.

I’ll get it together, back the enemy up until its in a box. I’ll hide the box in a deep recess and build a wall around it. And, I’ll be okay again until it knocks the wall down, slithers out of the box and sneaks back in to try one more time to convince me I don’t have a voice, or a platform, or a worthy talent.

I’ll keep fighting the good fight of every tortured writer, artist, poet, every lonely teen, and pageant winning beauty queen, and Pinterest loving SAH mom. Every former high-school football star, and every could have, would have, and should have been.

And hey, I wrote today. I wrote this. It’s a start.