Writing is only cathartic when I'm emoting about something in my personal life, or espousing a passionately held belief, or sharing something ridiculous in order to provoke laughter.
Other than that, writing is work. Painstaking, angst-inspiring work, of the kind that almost never receives any kind of kudos. More than anything, it produces rejection. Not a paycheck, not accolades from my peers, not even a nod and a wink from the Publishing Powers That Be. Oh, it produces a wink now and again. One of those tantalizing, this-could-almost-be-a-great-thing kind of winks. Ultimately, though, the nod doesn't follow.
And so I scream.
It isn't an audible scream, though perhaps it should be. It's a mental scream -- a long, deep-in-the-belly, anguish-spewing scream from my soul. Sometimes my eyes leak a little bit from the force of the scream; I wipe away the wet on my sleeve. Sometimes my head flops onto the wrist rest of my keyboard from the weight of the scream; I let it stay there until it gathers strength to lift itself. Sometimes a sound, like a primal growl or the grunt of a woman in childbirth, slips from my throat; I don't pay attention to it. And when the soul-scream has run its course, I heave a cleansing sigh and brush errant strands of hair from my face.
And I write.
So it goes, on and on, over and over. The exciting developments fizzle and end in disappointment. The almost-successes dry up and leave me stranded and thirsty. Over and over, on and on, up and down and up and down.
"You've got a solid plot." "Obviously you know how to write." "I think you have something here." "There's so much about the book that's truly engaging." "Truly did enjoy the chapters -- they were well-written, exciting, and fun."
And then...no. No. No, thank you. No.
It's okay. My self-worth isn't tethered to this process. My writing continues to develop, grow, blossom -- breathing fresh life into my novel with every pass of the editing eye. And my new work has more strength from the beginning.
Good stuff. Good stuff out of the scream-inspiring stuff.
Here's to another day of pouring into what is ultimately not part of my soul. Words on paper, really. Born of something deep within me, to be sure. But in the end, words on paper. A final product. A sales potential.