I feel crazy.

And I feel safe in the belief that no one reads this anymore, so I can spill my guts here without worrying. I want to say that it’s time for me to start writing again, and I know it’s time, because I feel so miserable and depressed about it.

Sometimes (a lot of times) I want to stop writing. Never write another book, I mean. And I never feel that as strongly as right before I start a new book. There are so many reasons not to do it: It takes up so much of my time, it stresses me out, it doesn’t pay enough, there are already enough books in the world, I’d rather finish knitting this scarf or sewing that dress. It makes me fat. It’s not going to make me rich or famous or even able to quit my day job. It won’t come out as good as I want it to. It never can.

I went through all those thoughts the other day. Even though I felt them sincerely as hell, I simultaneously knew that I’m about to start the next book. Because I always have those thoughts right before starting the next book.

What are the reasons to start a new book? Surely I have a list of reasons that’s the same length as the list of reasons not to. For symmetry, right? Or maybe the list of positives has one extra item that tips the scale. It must, right?

No, there’s only one reason, and it’s that I’m crazy. (Neurotic, to be precise. I have a horrible need to try to top whatever success I achieved before, always.) That’s the only reason I can think of.

I do have a symmetry-creating list, though. It’s a list of “this times.” This time, this book will be better than anything I’ve ever written, because I’ll try extra hard. This time, I’ll win the award I covet. This time, I’ll have fun writing and won’t be stressed out. This time, I’ll be more free as an artist. This time, I won’t let thoughts of money or sales ruin the experience. This time will be the last time I do something I think will sell or win awards, and next time will be when I take three years to write what I really, really want to write. This time I won’t obsess. This time, I’ll knuckle down and finish faster than all the other times. This time, I’ll try a new technique. This time, I’ll buy a lottery ticket while I’m writing, just in case.

I know that the “this times” are contradictory and don’t make sense. I’m telling y’all, it’s crazy.

Is that depressing? Okay, here’s something funny for the end, then. Every time I go through all this shit and then start writing a new book, I tell my husband, “I don’t know why I waited so long to do this. I’m always happiest when I’m working on a new book.”

Right now I can’t think of why I’d say that, because it sounds like a big freaking lie. But I do remember saying it, more than once. So I’m going to entrust Past Gwen with Future Gwen’s happiness and continue moving forward.

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Posted in writing on 10/05/2011 03:10 pm

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