That question is obviously directed toward my fellow wordsmiths, but I suppose it could be modified to fit anyone in possession of an art or skill that periodically feels like a millstone around their neck.
When I was writing as an amateur–submitting stories to fanzines, sharing them with friends–life was so much easier. Back then, I diligently, even eagerly, strove to improve my skill with words, to hone the craft that had laid its hand on me from the time I was little. (I asked for that typewriter for Christmas, by the way. It was advertised in either the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog. It was made of cheap metal, painted pale tan, and I loved it dearly. And, no, I don’t have it anymore.)
See, I’ve ventured into unknown country now in taking on narrative nonfiction where before I’ve only written fiction. The writing isn’t what’s got me down–once I got my head turned around, progress came with … not relative ease, I can’t say that, but certainly easier than I expected. It was a challenge that I’m proud to say I overcame. The first draft was written in six months. It’s gone through probably five iterations since and is now with an agent. It’s the proposal that’s knocking my head against the wall, and the notion of promotion. (Which I didn’t mean to have rhyme, but I like it–it sounds ridiculous, but I could use a bit of ridiculous today–and so it stays.)
I don’t have a problem with getting up in front of people, reading from my work, even talking about my work or the creative process in general. But this is something more. Something I … can’t … quite … get … my … arms … around, and it’s driving me bonkers.
It’s moments like this, when I’m feeling stymied by what I know and can figure out, that I wish–for a fleeting moment or two–that Fate had not stamped WRITER on my forehead when I was born. The emotion doesn’t last long, for I love writing as I love little else, but when it’s present, it’s a drag.