Writing + motivation + anxiety = profit???
Updated: Mar 4, 2020
Fun fact about me: I can’t write without music.
That’s right! Someone with zero musical talent whatsoever (except for scream-singing along with Lzzy Hale in the car) can’t write more than three words - academic or creative - without some kind of jams playing in the background. Before there was free music streaming online, I used to make playlists on iTunes using my favorite albums - and since we’re talking about twelve-year-old me, that was Green Day’s American Idiot and Linkin Park’s Meteora. With the introduction of streaming, my tastes would expand into classic rock, metal, and even pop. The type of music never mattered, as long as it was playing and I was DJ, and to this day that’s true. I don’t know if the music drowned out background noise, my thoughts, or just gave one part of my brain something to focus on while the other spat out text… but one day the music wasn’t enough.
I graduated high school in 2012 as an honors student with zero idea what I wanted to do with my life. Writing had always been my passion, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to a degree program in English at a local university, which has a… reputation, for being more about profits than people. Online learning was just losing its training wheels, and it was hard to tell which schools were scams and which were legit. So I decided I’d take a gap year (as many people do, nothing wrong with that!), hunker down, and try to write a book.
There were a few problems with this plan. Here there are, in handy list format:
I tried to write a science fiction book. I watch science fiction, but I rarely read it and knew less than nothing about the genre.
I thought essentially plagiarizing Star Trek was a great idea.
I have chronic depression and anxiety - you can see where this is headed.
Long story short: I failed. I wrote over 130,000 words and I failed to produce anything meaningful. I gave my ill-fated manuscript to friends and family to read, and though they were all exceedingly kind, I knew they were just trying to spare my feelings. The truth was hard and bitter: I had failed at the one thing I thought I was good at, and I didn’t think I would ever be good at anything again.
That was 2013. I wallowed in misery and depression and self-hatred for another year and most likely annoyed the shit out of everyone around me by being a moody douchenozzle. I tried to write, but even the music couldn’t quell the part of me that said I would never be good enough, that I could never write something people would actually pay money to read. Around the same time I decided fuck it, I’m gonna apply to college and go for English and if I wind up living in a box I don’t care (read: 2015), I started looking at some of my older, unfinished work.
And I stumbled on a gem of an idea.
It needed a lot of TLC - the addition of major plot points, and an overhaul of everything from characters to pacing to the amount of swearing, but I saw the beginnings of a story I could like. My good, long-suffering friend Caitlin had read this story many times and encouraged me to follow the path it was laying out for me. I spent a year working on the first draft (also my freshman year of college and the year my grandmother had a debilitating stroke), and 2016 and 2017 saw my mom and Caitlin reading this book - now titled STITCHES - over and over, and me editing and rewriting and pulling out my hair, in between classes and finals and the passing of both of my grandmothers. To say it’s been a long road is an understatement.
Which is why I’m happy we’re here, finally: I’ve shared what I hope to be the second-to-last draft with three amazing people - my mom, Caitlin, and my friend Lexi - and next month, I’m going to start querying literary agents for representation. I know I’ll get rejected. I could get one or two or six incredible offers or none at all. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and my work could remain unpublished until the world is eaten in a nuclear inferno and some alien comes along a million years from now and says “oh, those silly humans and their stories!”
But barring the doomsday scenario, I plan on being here, trying tirelessly to get my work out into the world. And if I can do it, so can you. It might seem impossible, like the entire world - including yourself - is against you, but I promise you, if you find your music, you can make anything sing.