In the last three years I’ve completed two huge, creative projects. I’ve spent the last two years working on my first novel, For the Summer, and in the last six months I wrote and performed my own solo show, Fangirl. I’m in awe that both of these things actually exist in the world, let alone that I created them. I wrote all 60,000 words of For the Summer and I performed all 45 minutes full of words that I wrote. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done so far, the problem is maintaining the level of motivation required to take them even further.
Everyone always says that writing is a solitary pursuit, and that is one of the truest statements. It’s one of the things I find least exciting about writing. I like to talk to people and share ideas. Not to mention the fact that I doubt myself pretty much constantly and I like people to tell me that I’m on the right track. For my novel I’ve worked with some amazing writers on the direction of the work and how to make it better and better. For the show, I have a director who pushed me to not be afraid of taking the next steps towards putting myself out there. At the end of the day though, here I am with my notebook and my computer, alone in my apartment with season 4 of The Good Wife just a button’s push away.
I did send my novel to a few agents, 8 to be exact. I got three rejections and five never responded. The rejections didn’t hurt that much—at least I can be sure my 20 pages were read. It actually felt like a rite of passage to get the rejection letters, like I’d actually entered the world of real writers. Another thing everyone always talks about is the rejection and how long it takes to find an agent and eventually get published. At least I’m taking steps on a path that I know is well-worn in front of me.
Fangirl was a bit luckier than For the Summer in that I was accepted into the first festival I submitted to. It gave me the opportunity to perform my show again and actually write a script instead of saying whatever popped into my brain. It was an invaluable experience because I was able to get feedback, much the way I had my writer friends to give me feedback on the novel. Besides the fact that, getting into the festival provided a sense of validation that I was denying was necessary after my rejections. I still kind of can’t believe it happened.
It’s the Now that I’m struggling with. I know that my novel could still use more work, I don’t need anyone else to read it and tell me that. I know my query letter isn’t perfect. I know that I have more writing to do for Fangirl—there are entire sections of the show that need to be rewritten and reworked. I know I’ll need funding the next time I want to perform it. Even though I’ve climbed so many creative mountains in the last few years and conquered so much of my own doubt, I feel like I’m back at the bottom again. This next step, for both of the projects, seems both squarely in the palm of my hand and also completely out of my control. I’m spinning my wheels waiting for someone to come and dig me out of the mud. And even if that someone is me, I can’t find my shovel (or maybe I just don’t want to get that dirty).
NaNoWriMo is in a couple of weeks and its so tempting to start something new and leave both of these projects behind for a little bit. I know there are people out there who would even recommend that. They’d say that starting a new project will alleviate some of the pressure I’m feeling. I think I disagree though. Starting something new feels like running away. It feels like I’d be abandoning For the Summer and Fangirl at a really integral part of the process.
So here’s my plan (I love a good plan): I’m going to use that motivation that comes from NaNoWriMo to take some next steps. I’m going to rewrite my query letter and send it to agents. I’m going to finish my Fangirl script and submit it to two more festivals. I’m going to claw my way to the top of this next peak even if only to discover a higher one awaits me.
And I think I’ll come back here for a while too. So I’ll keep you posted…