SHām, noun, 1. “… a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior….” Synonyms: humiliation, mortification, chagrin, ignominy, embarrassment, indignity, discomfort ….
When you write the Disappointing Novel—the one that makes you cringe when you think about its missed opportunities—you experience a feeling of deep failure.
Failure really isn’t so bad. It comes. It goes. It comes and goes.
But, oh, then there is Shame.
Shame permeates your marrow. Shame makes something wonderful you once had go dead inside. Shame pummels your heart squishy, gnaws at your bones as if you are the carrion to its flesh-eaters.
Shame twists your brain into knot upon knot upon knot—
Shame that you wrote a book full of missed opportunities. Shame that you handed that book to your editor. Shame that your publishers accepted it, just as it was, because they had faith in you. Shame that it was published, just as it was, because they had faith in you. Shame that it didn’t sell like a house-a-fire after your publishers said, “This book will be your next best seller!” and it ain’t and likely never’t wilt be because you didn’t write it right. You wrote it wrong. Oops.
“Oh, the book this could have been, if I ….” You shake your head sloooowwly back and forth. Tsk Tsk.
Then there is the well-intentioned friend who serves you Shame on a burnt-black platter. “This book doesn’t have the heart and soul of your other books. What happened? And what’s up with those sex scenes? They’re weird.” Um, those sex scenes are RAGE RAGE RAGE! All the corners of that book are FIRE and RAGE. Don’t you also see the beauty buried in the RAGE? Don’t you see it?
No. Of course she didn’t see it. You didn’t do your job. You didn’t write it right. You wrote it wrong.
You are ashamed that RAGE took over your life and Godzilla-stomped it to smithereens and made your brain go all wonkity where you couldn’t even write a goddamned book right and you wrote it wrong.
You lovingly pick up your other books and smooth the covers with your gentle sweet hand. But with the Disappointing Missed Opportunities Book, you often pretend it’s not there. “What? That book?” you say. “Oh, that’s my Rage Book. Yeah. That’s the book I wrote when I Godzilla-stomped through my life. That’s the book I wrote when I decided to end my 16-year marriage. That’s the book I wrote when I began drinking too much liquor and eating crap for food. That’s the book I wrote when I isolated myself inside myself. That’s the book where I almost lost the last bit of my Self. Yeah. That book. Whatevs. I didn’t write it right. I wrote it wrong. Dammit.”
The missed opportunities of the poor little disappointing novel rise up and swallow you whole. And in the dark gooshy belly of that great beast you wallow around until you create enough friction to blow fiery breaths of disappointing novel RAGE! Until all that is left under the rubble is— [Read more…]