Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: discouragement

Writing and Emotions

     Here’s how a night of writing typically goes:

  • 1:00-1:10 – I sit down with computer, notebook, tea and water. I turn on some ambient Zen music. High expectations and energy. I’m going to rock my own face off tonight!
  • 1:10-1:40 – I get distracted by Facebook, Twitter and blogging. If I’m lucky this produces a new blog post, a couple Tweets and a Facebook share. If I’m less lucky this produces nothing.
  • 1:40-3:00 – I turn off all my distractions and look at what needs doing. Generally this produces a sickening angst. I see some plot holes and character inconsistencies. I realize that I have made a horrible mistake and I never should have started writing in the first place. I should have been an actor. Or an accountant. Or anything at all because I suck at this and it’s going nowhere and I’m wasting my time and it’s all pointless and I’m an idiot and OH GOD NOOOO!
  • 3:00-3:30 – Play Doom II
  • 3:30 – Guilt forces back to the stupid book.
  • 3:31-6:00 – I work. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. But, as I work, the story takes hold of itself. I write. Tap, tap, tap go my fingers. My characters breathe and live and act. I’ve forgotten that I’m writing. I am simply being. I am doing what I do. And, suddenly, I notice that it’s nearly 6am. I look at my wordcount and I gasp. I read it over and I gasp again. I did well. Not perfect. Needs work. But the scenes are true. The characters are real. Dear God, I’m a writer.
  • 6:01 – Happy dance.

     Okay, maybe that’s not a typical day of writing. I don’t really have typical days. But the wild roller coaster of feelings is real. In one night I’ll both despise and adore my work. I’ll both despise and adore myself. But most nights end on a higher note than they began. Which leads me to believe the higher emotions are the more authentic. Which, further, leads me to believe I’m on the right track.

     How about you? What strange things does your creative outlet do to your heart?

A Letter I Got This Weekend

My consciousness received a letter this weekend. I figured I’d share it.

Dear Matt,
Hi there. Remember me? You’ve been shutting me out for a while now. And I see you’ve been busy while I’ve been gone. Think you got a lot done, eh? Think you’ve made progress, eh? Well, I just wanted to drop you a line to remind you that you’re not actually getting anywhere. In fact, everything that you’ve been doing is a colossal waste of time. You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You don’t have ‘it’. I’d prove it to you, but you already know it, deep down. You’ll never achieve anything worthwhile in your life. You’re too old. You’re too dumb. That’s just the way it is. So you might as well delete that laughable WIP with all of its shallow characters and glaring plot holes. Because people are going to laugh at it. The same way people laugh at you behind your back when you tell them you’re a writer. Quit trying. You’re no good.
Sincerely,
The Imp on your Shoulder

I sat around thinking about the letter for most of the weekend. Finally drafted a response last night:

Dear Imp on my Shoulder,
Sod off.

I could stop there. I could leave this with a simple dismissal and get on with my day, but I feel like I ought to give you a bit more so that you’ll think again before writing me with your ‘advice.’

It’s true that my WIP is ugly and a bit malformed right now. I’m the first to admit it. It’s like a fetus. Kinda creepy looking and not meant to be exposed quite yet. Can’t stand on its own legs legs.

But I am good enough, smart enough, diligent enough to make it walk. No, I can make it fly!

I can prove it, too. I’ve done stuff, you see. I’ve written a book. I’ve travelled the world. I’ve learned another language. I’ve produced children. I’ve spread joy and love. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!

What have you done, oh imp on my shoulder?

Nothing.

You’ve sat there for twenty-nine years bitching and whining. You’ve never helped me achieve any of my goals. You’ve never cheered for any of my successes. You’ve never been a meaningful part of anything good that I’ve ever accomplished. I’m not the waste. You are. And I won’t let you consume me. The very fact that I’m clever enough to push you away makes me clever enough to realize my dreams.

So sod off, imp. Precedent says you’re wrong. And even if it didn’t, I’d rather die with a thousand failed attempts than listen to you and try nothing.

Oh-so-very Sincerely,
Matt