I was looking at my computer desktop the other day and realized that 1: I’m pretty tidy with my desktop, as stuff is mostly grouped in folders, not scattered all over the place, and 2: As fits the stereotype of tidy people, anyone looking at my desktop would probably think I was dead boring. 

(Maybe I am dead boring. I don’t know. I like to think I’m not.) 

Anyway, all that was on my desktop were five folders of writing and two folders of photos. This led me to wonder what non-writers even use laptops for. What clutters their desktops? Math problems? Spreadsheets? Now I need to find some non-writers and find out. 

It’s funny, though, that with all this writing I do, nothing ever seems to get out of those folders and into print. 

Another friend of mine got a publishing deal this week.  It’s like they are growing on trees—except, of course, I don’t have one yet. Perhaps I need to grow taller to grab mine.  It’s funny, this is the third book I’ve edited in a non-professional capacity that got a publishing deal, while my own efforts have foundered on the shoals of agent representation. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.  At least I have a day job that lets me play to that strength. 

As always happens when I get other people’s publishing news, I landed in that schizophrenic briar patch of being genuinely and absolutely thrilled for the person, because they worked hard and they deserve every bit of it, and being completely and disgustingly self-pitying and jealous and What About Meeeeee? It’s not in my nature to stay that way for much more than a few hours, though, and my particular flavor of pity party tends to turn quickly to the more analytical question of What Am I Doing Wrooooooonnnnnnng?  

Depending on how much sleep I’ve had, how my diet is going, if someone cut me off in traffic, etc., the answer can be “everything,”  or “nothing.” 

Right now, the main answer is I’m just not working hard enough. I’ve had a lot of other things going on where I chose to sink my energy instead, so writing has been on a shelf. Even the thought of submitting is exhausting enough to send me running for a nap.  I’ve made the excuse that I’m still waiting for my readers to get back to me on one piece. On the one hand, I’m glad they are giving me the excuse to sit around, but on the other, I’m kind of annoyed because when I agree to read for people, I do my best to get it back to them inside of a week. Where’s my non-professional editor who’s like me? Harumph.

But I’m not sure lack of effort is all I’m doing wrong.  I know I wrote for the wrong age group on my last big effort, and perhaps that’s what’s got me stalled. I don’t want to expend a lot of energy on making a similar mistake. I wonder if my voice is appealing to the group I’m writing for. I think it is, and my small sample group seems amenable, but I don’t know. I wonder if my ideas are boring. Then I veer the other way and think I should dump everything I’m doing and throw myself into one great work of art where I struggle over every single word and phrase and make every letter count. Then I laugh heartily, because no matter how much I read, my brain will never be literary enough to pull off anything like that. I don’t talk that way, and I can’t write that way. Plus, the only person I ever met who had success in literary fiction was kind of an asshole. I don’t want to be that person. 

So I’m still struggling. I’m just not sure against what, other than my own bad habits. 


About arwenbicknell

Editor by day, author by night.
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