Writing stories has been a most important part of my life ever since, at twelve I believe, I read "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" by Jules Verne. Imagining fantastic adventures was my way of living them. I wanted to be a speleologist, a palaeontologist, a marine biologist, and archaeologist, an astronaut. I wrote, wrote, and wrote about that.
Over the years, I have started many novels, which I never finished. However, that never actually seemed important. I have always written for my pleasure. For the thrill of living many lives at once. I never worried about publishing my work. That made me light and carefree. I was also very young and the future stretched endlessly in front of me.
Yet, sometime during the past few years, something has shifted. I got older, of course. The thought of seeking publication has acquired a more tangible shape. The future, also, suddenly appeared finite –as it truly is, unfortunately- hence adding urgency to all my actions. Instead of being hopeful, I have become impatient, anxious. Except for the moments of complete trance, the writing has become (a bit) painful with apprehension. Just a little bit.
I buy a lot of books. However, I rarely go to bookstores anymore. I love books, I adore books, but seeing them all together like that makes me sad. It discourages me big-time. That’s because I can’t help thinking: What are the chances of all these beautiful, colourful, wonderful, shiny, published books to be bought and read by (many) people? I would say, rather slim. Except for the best-sellers, of course, which sell best because, well… they are best-sellers.
Then, there’s Amazon, with so many more books, all kind of books, including a lot of self-published books. While I’m not eloquent enough to express my admiration for these people who wrote their novels and published them, one way or another, I also cringe when I see Amazon best-selling ranks into hundreds of thousands or millions.
Don’t get me wrong. I still find an exhilarating motivation in seeing other people’s accomplishments, especially those of my blogging friends. Maximum kudos to all of them! I do not feel one drop of envy, please believe me, only admiration.
In this sea of books, I feel so lost. I’m not even capable of finishing my novel. I’m too stupid or too lazy, or both, to even finish one novel. I’m too overwhelmed by OCD – what else could it be this obsessive polishing of each sentence, this endless pondering of the logic of each plot element – to go from one paragraph to the next. I couldn’t agree more with whoever said first that perfectionism breeds paralysis. I’m really fighting hard to snap out of it.
I’m not giving up. No way. No matter the outcome, I will still be fooling myself and pushing myself because the “highs” are definitely worth more than the “lows.” And I will never be able to be just a reader.
Oh, Jules Verne, what have you done to me?