Not Done Yet

I’m supposed to be working on additional content for the paperback release of Hand Me Down and I’m having trouble writing. I’m not sure I can tell you what the bonus content is yet, but I will say it’s a little bit more from Liz after the current ending, and I think it will be a great extra for readers.

It’s mostly done since it’s something I wrote before I sold HMD. I just have a few more scenes to add, and I even have ideas for them, but I can’t sink back into Liz’s voice. It’s been nine months since the final final edits on this book were done and I’ve spent that time trying to get Liz’s voice out of my head so I could write a different book, get to know a new narrator. It was finally working—I’ve begun the very early phases of my second book, but now, just for a brief few scenes, I have to crawl back into Liz’s head, let her talk to me freely after months of telling her we needed to take a break. This is all very confusing for both of us, and I’m finding it’s much more difficult than I expected.

Of course, everything about publishing this book has been nothing like I expected. And things keep changing and shifting and I’m trying to find a balance in this new life as a published author while still trying to write like no one’s watching or waiting, but sometimes it’s difficult. More so than I expected. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

So, why am I writing a blog post? I’m trying to assuage my guilt over not writing the work that is due soon, and also trying to tell myself I’m not superwoman. I can’t do it all. I get so mad at myself when I can’t complete a task by the deadline, even a self-imposed deadline. I feel like a failure; like I’m letting everyone down. Like I’m not good enough.

If you’ve read HMD, you might have some insight into how deeply this triggers a panic response in my chest, makes my heart flutter with fear. If I’m not good enough, I expect my world to collapse in on me again.

It doesn’t matter that it’s been fifteen years since the events that inspired Hand Me Down took place and I was forced to leave my home. It doesn’t matter how many people have loved my book, how many good reviews I’ve received, how far I’ve come or how hard I’ve worked. It doesn’t matter if I felt loved or safe or fearless for any amount of time before right now. If I can’t do this one thing—this week that means write a scene, but this fear applies to so many other tasks—it proves my success was a fluke, that the love and safety I felt were lies. That I’m not good enough and never will be.

The trick is remembering that the voice in my head that says I’m a failure is the same voice that spurred me to work my ass off, to push as hard as I could to get this point where I even need to write new content for a book that is already published; a book people have really responded to. It wasn’t a fluke. The good things in my life are not lies; the true lie is that I don’t deserve them, because I do. And so does Liz.

Maybe that’s part of why these new scenes are harder for me to write. Liz’s story—my story, too—isn’t over yet, but overall it’s headed into a lighter place and after so many years of darkness, it’s a bit difficult to accept, more so than we expected. That negative voice is hard to ignore, especially when it disguises itself as a protector, but I know we’ll make it through. We always do.

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3 thoughts on “Not Done Yet

  1. kristak81 says:

    melanie,
    this is so interesting and as always, so well put. i am a big believer that i have to remove myself from the voices that hold me back–like, literally get in the car and drive far away, just to get some space between myself and those voices, or at least sort through the voices to figure out which one is most truly mine. maybe get away for a day? thanks for sharing! 🙂

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