Last night I finished the layout and text of the picture book that Gary and I have been working on for (over) a year and a half. Immediately I began questioning its merit, my merit, my talents, my intentions, my decisions, my life, my my my me me me.
To be truthful, the thing has stressed me out from the beginning. We had this grand idea that we vowed to follow through to fruition. I am not very good at fruition. If you know me, you know that I am an escape artist (or you can call me a quitter, if you like). I quit university after a little over a semester, I quit beauty school after I found out that I owed more money than I could afford to pay out-of-pocket after student loans, I’ve quit cities and states, I’ve quit more jobs than I have fingers and toes for.
To tell the bald-faced, finger-in-the-nose truth, I am not good at completing anything. I get scared to see the end of things. The end gives me anxiety: will anyone even like it, is it any good, should I even bother…?
Men in Caves, to tell the truth, has been finished for a while. It needs plumped out and edited but every time I try to polish it I freak out and shove it in the corner and start dreaming about something new. This work, this story, these characters, I feel like I’ll taint my original work with a heavy hand or lack of skill. Far Away (the first issue and now this upcoming issue) has been easier. To me, it’s more about everyone else involved than me. That suits me best, I think. Take the attention off of me and I’m golden. If only I didn’t have this pesky, twitchy urge to write all the time. If only these characters would stop popping up in my head maybe I could devote myself entirely to other communal projects, ones that aren’t self-serving.
I do love to write flash fiction and stories, most especially. Maybe because I can get them finished quickly, before they start to torment.
I went to a psychic once, and she said that a lot of people think I’m flaky, that I can’t finish anything, that I quit everything. She said it’s not that I’m a quitter, it’s that I have a spot on gut instinct. That instinct is basically all I have sometimes, and that it’s served me better than I know. Gary tells me I should write a book about all of my ridiculous jobs and ridiculous bosses and ridiculous situations. I’d like to do that. I’d like to start it, I should say. Not promising that I’ll finish it. Really, I think that all of those jobs (and even this most recent one that I quit under the guise of spending more time writing – and more time with my son, that’s no guise at all – no wool over any eyes there)…all these jobs have been the backwash result of my scattered education and half-formed skills. If I had a degree I might have the opportunity to have something stick, and not have to settle for low-paying office administrator jobs that go absolutely nowhere, that I get bored at, that are awful and terrible and challenge nothing in my brain but my patience.
But really, I have no clue where to go from here. I’ve thought about reapplying to school but it’s terribly expensive and to be honest just the thought intimidates me after all these years. It’s terrible, but when I think college I think of my alcohol dependence (I’ve been sober eleven years now) and depression. And the cost. And the loans. But sometimes I think if I weren’t so fucking scared of it I’d start and keep going, not stopping until I had enough education to write all the time and teach literature or something. I could live between the pages of a book (mine and others) for ever and ever. But I don’t know. Right now I’m floating and I don’t know.
(sorry for this)