I’ve spoken a bit before about losing the joy in writing. For a good while now (since writing and selling Beastkeeper), I’ve been struggling with my novel-writing. No matter how many novels I start, I decide they are trash, will never sell, and that I’m wasting my time. I junk that book and start the next one, hoping that this time I can stop sounding like Cat Hellisen and instead write something that will appeal to a wider range of readers and therefore to editors.
Lather, rinse, repeat, because you know how people talk about “finding their voice”? Yeah. I have a voice. This is my voice. If we were talking in terms of singing, I am not Britney Spears or Lady Gaga or anyone else whose name you know. Maybe I’m Will Oldham/Bonnie “Prince” Billy (though he’s more productive and better known than me, Especially as The Palace Brothers, which was my intro to his sound, so…maybe not). Still if this is what I sound like to other people then it might explain my lack of chart success. (FTR, this is one of my favourite songs).
Anyway, so now I have to take a different path. Less of the “finding my voice” and more of the “accepting my voice”. Knowing its limitations and working on those areas, reveling in the bits that sound like no one else but me.
But that means not throwing away the stuff I’m working on, and damn, let me tell you – that’s scary. To keep writing something even if you know most people are going to go eh, whatever, Next! That goes against everything I wanted for myself as a writer (a career, fans, books in book stores).
So I’m doing it in small steps. I am writing 750 words a day on my novella and NOT DELETING because Cat, you can fix this later, stop hating on everything you write. At least for the moment.
I’m remembering to enjoy doing small things that give me space to sing – like poetry, or fanfiction, or flash pieces. Stop worrying about selling by writing stuff that I know already doesn’t sell, so it doesn’t matter.
When I am done with the novella, my agent wants me to work on an old novel that I had (once, again) abandoned, and it is all stitchery and witchery and women’s gods and women’s power, so I am pretty excited to get back into that world. This is why I write, so I can play.
In the mean while I have books out there on submission, and one day they will find the editors they are meant to find. Or they won’t. And that’s just how it goes. All I can do is keep writing small and large about the things that interest me. Making up my own songs, drumming my own beat.