I glance at my phone. I’m loving the book.
I smile. It’s a message from one of the beta readers for the book I’m putting out soon (slated for early/mid May).
When we set up the beta, we structured it so that readers could give feedback to Skyspook, who would deliver it to me in aggregate form. With anonymity, they could be critical, brutally honest, without worrying about my holding any negative comments against them.
Because writing a terrible book is like walking around with mustard on your face. I’d want someone to tell me. (And of course, to alert me to the location of the problem.)
Instead, a few of them have contacted me directly (naughty, naughty) in addition to the formal feedback process, letting me know how much they like it.
“You know,” I say to Skyspook. “I’m at least feeling like it has some good parts and that I’m not stupid for putting it out there.”
Skyspook frowns. “Why would you be stupid for putting out a book?” And he reminds me that I had people I don’t know asking me to write one. Saying I should.
But in the court of self-opinion, I’m guilty until proven innocent.
Raiding the Newbie Zone
I’ve been this way for years. I default to thinking I’m a bad writer and stupid for sharing things.
It’s this constant quest to disprove that. And of course it isn’t just about my writing but also my self-worth.
What a miserable quest. Holy hell.
It’s no wonder lovers aren’t keen to accompany me on the Quest to Prove I’m Not a Terrible Person. To sit there silently while I beat up on myself. Question my worth. My ability. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they love grouping with me, but there are better raids to join, for sure.
I keep trying to tromp through the swamp when there is a perfectly good road.
Killing every giant rat, even though they’re not attacking me, and they don’t give me exp or loot.
Writing in Code
I know exactly where it comes from. As I wrote in one of the More than Two question essays:
When I was growing up, my mother often punished me for what I said.
When I wasn’t silly, I was offensive. I talked too much. “Shut up, no one wants to hear what you have to say.” It was extra confusing when these reprimands came after I was asked for my opinion. A double bind.
I learned to bite my tongue. To say the minimum necessary. What I expected my mother wanted to hear. And for my real feelings? I turned to writing. To journals.
And it all went well until my mother started to search my room, under the guise of cleaning. She read the notebooks she found. I’m sure much of it would embarrass Present Day Me. I was a child. They weren’t masterpieces. But to her? I had written doubt. Heresy. Filth.
The spiral notebooks were confiscated, burned.
And so I continued on, without a safe place to put my thoughts.
Until I finally found one. It’s why I alphabetize so easily. And why I can tell you instantly that Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet. I learned to write in cipher. A simple numeric one where A equals 1 and Z, 26.
Mom left the numbers alone and was happy I was so interested in math.
Leaving the Trash Mobs
So even though it feels foolish to press on, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that I’ll get slaughtered out there, it’s time to leave the newbie zone.
Because we all have jobs to do, and I need to give the giant rats a rest.