Can’t sleep, words will eat me

I’m at That Point in the book. That Point being the part where I’m constantly terrified that I’m going to Royally Screw It Up. I write in spite of, or perhaps because of, this feeling.

It feels like being on a tightrope without a net. Although I know I have a net: revision. I will eventually revise and revise and revise until I’m walking the tightrope without even a glance at the ground, back straight, firm grasp on that pole-thingy tightrope walkers hold. Is this metaphor working? I’m not sure.

I am also reassured by the fact that other writers feel this way, and published ones, at that. And I’m reassured by this quotation from John Irving, which keeps me going even on my darkest days:

If you don’t feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then possibly what you are doing isn’t very vital. If you don’t feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it? If you don’t have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough.

There it is. It’s like a breath of fresh air into my cobweb-filled skull. That, and this Samuel Beckett quotation, which I promised myself I would keep in my head through this entire novel:

Ever tried.
Ever failed.
No matter.
Try again.
Fail again.
Fail better.

I swore to myself, when I first started writing this novel, that I would fail better than I did the last time. Even if it’s not the one that gets me published, I will have accomplished a great deal if I can just fail better. And then on the next one, I’ll fail even better than that. And I will keep on failing, until I succeed.

That, my friends, is what writing is about. Hell…that’s what life is about.