I thought I’d moved beyond this. It's not like I'm inexperienced at the writing life. I've had my share of failures. I've spent years on novels that were never published and had essays turned down so many times I could have papered my entire house with the rejection letters. I’ve also had enough successes to keep me going. Writing as a Sacred Path has brought me such lovely emails from readers, it’s enough to make it all worth it. And the response to my literary journal The Whirlwind Review has, to say the least, been a delightful surprise.
So, with all this seasoning, I was pretty sure I’d warded off the demon for good. And yet, there I was this morning, writing away in my favorite café, when I looked up to see him sitting at my table, bloated and purple and grinning that derisive grin.
“Well, well, well. Just don’t give up, do you?” he said. He took a bite out of the vegan cranberry quickbread I’d gotten for breakfast. I slapped it out of his hand. “Ooooh, she’s testy today,” he said, slobbering purple saliva into my coffee. “Feeling anxious about our little novel, are we?”
“I’m feeling fine about my novel,” I said. “It’s coming along great. Just great.” But my voice was shaking.
The demon—his name’s Gobbler—laughed. “Yeah, sure. It’s just great. Your agent will love it. Publishers will eat it up. It will be a big success.” He picked something green from between his teeth and belched. “Or, maybe—just maybe—it won’t. Could be everyone will say it stinks. Maybe it does stink.”
I wondered why he had to show up now, just when I was thinking things were going so well. To make matters worse, the weather was a cliché. Clouds were gathering. It was a dark and stormy morning.
“Look, why don’t you just leave me alone?” I said. “I’ve got work to do.” Gobbler folded his three-fingered hands over his belly. “How long have you been working on that thing, anyway? Three years now? Three years.”
“That’s an awful lot of your life to waste.”
That was it. An awful lot of my life to waste.
“Shut up!” I shouted. I jumped up, shoved my computer into my bag, and fled. I had to get away from him. I wanted to be alone.
But when I got in my car, he was waiting in the passenger seat. And when I got home, he was there, too. He lounged on my bed while I paced—yes, I was actually pacing. Thunder was crashing outside. Hail was pelleting my window. The sky was nearly dark as night.
The words echoed in my head. An awful lot of my life to waste. An awful lot of my life. To waste. To waste. To waste.
What could I do? Convince myself that my novel will be the next Harry Potter? Don’t be ridiculous. Quit writing altogether? That’s ridiculous, too, just in a different way. Tell myself it doesn’t matter whether my novel is published? That’s not going to work. It does matter. I want people to read it. The whole point is to offer the world something.
The question kept nagging at me. What can I do to get this demon to leave me alone? And the answer—the only answer, and the only writing tip I have on this Writing Tips Thursday—is this: Write. It’s all I have. Okay, I have other things: a wonderful life, really. But, to deal with Gobbler, I have only one weapon, one tool. Just write. Just write. Just write.
He got bored, eventually, watching me at my keyboard. He yawned and stretched and said he had to be going. “I’ll be back,” he said before he oozed under the door.
But I was too busy writing to answer. Like this post? Read more at the Writing as a Sacred Path Blog.
Causes Jill Jepson Supports
Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Interational Society for the Protection of Burros and Mustangs, National Wildlife Federation,...