What's a Young Writer to Do?

It kind of feels like I’m trapped under ice right now. I’m treading water, chiseling away at this thick slab above me, hoping to just see a crack form in it, just something I can squeeze my fingers into. Or just my voice.

I can see feet through the ice, though they’re just hazy silhouettes, and I know they’re people I want to see and be seen by. But when they look down, they just see white.

I’m being dramatic (just a tad), but this is what it feels like to be a young writer. You do the things you have to do (write everyday, put your work out there, build a platform) but you just keep thinking there’s got to be something you’re not doing. Like there’s this secret thing no one’s telling you, this hole in the puzzle that, once filled, unlocks everything else.

My goal’s to be a published writer. That’s not cutting a crack through the ice, that’s breaking through the whole fucking thing.

I’ve got the writing everyday thing down; I’ve had to stop myself, because I’m writing too much new stuff and not editing any of it.

I’m putting my work out there; I’ve sent out a bunch of short stories, amassed my first 10 rejections (a whopping ten!) My book’s out there, popping up in the cluttered inboxes of tired agents just looking forward to the holidays (who isn’t at this point?).

I’m trying to build my platform. I’m not as diligent with it as I should be, but I just never feel like I have anything to say. Whenever I put words to web page or face to camera, it feels like I’m just whining when I have no right to. I want to provide value, but I’ve got little of value to offer. So I just kick that can down the road, when I know I should be doing more.

I’ve Googled (motion to replace the verb “Googled” with “Skyneted”?) “how to be a published author” every single day for weeks now. I’m following the steps outlined in all the blogs, trying my hardest to hone my craft, but it all just feels like a shot in the dark.

I know that, once I get just a taste of reward, some pat on the back, I’ll be energized for years. It’s just frustrating to wait for that first pat, the first “good job, kiddo” that confirms you’re not wasting your goddamned time. Because yes, I love what I do. I have a passion for it that has no equal in any other field. I love putting words to paper more than anything else. I breathe characters and sweat stories. But fuck, sometimes I just feel like a pacified toddler with a tablet in hand. Yes, I’m not so miserable since I started writing every day, because I have this space where I can really thrive. But I’m spinning my wheels in a bubble. I’m writing all this stuff with no concept of how good it is, how publishable it is. My chisel is getting rusty, and the ice just seems to get thicker.

All that said, I know what the real problem is. I’m impatient. I’m hyper-aware of my age and my ten-year high school reunion is coming up and I feel like I have nothing to show for the last decade of life. And I know it’s all a trick my brain is playing on itself, like it enjoys wallowing in misery more than making actual progress. I wrote a novel. Start to finish, first draft to final(ish) edit. I’ve got the first draft of a second novel done too. I’ve done a lot. But it’s like spoken word in an empty hall; hearing your own voice in isolation makes you question the point of the thing.

I know that once that crack starts to form, I’ll give it everything I’ve got and I’ll bust through that ice. I know it takes time, but my chisel’s getting rusty and the cold’s made my muscles stiff.