Margot Merrill on modern parenthood and the writing life


Antidote to the Y.S.Y.D.S. game

In writing the novel, there were moments when something beautiful happened; when sentences appeared onscreen as perfect as pie. And weeks did go by when I was happily obsessed with the secret lives of the characters unfurling. But most of the time it was a just a fuckload of work. I doubted it would ever be good enough to share. That's why I choked at the very end of the process, as I was submitting it to potential agents.

You see, by keeping my story in my laptop and head, I could play this really cool game called You Suck You Dumb Shit …whenever I wanted! (Y.S.Y.D.S.–don't you love it when the acronym is harder to say than the words?) If my book is never published and never read, I reason, I can keep torturing myself by playing out ridiculous fantasies where:

a)   It’s praised as “the voice of our generation,” “a cunning retelling of a classic love story gone awry,” and “San Francisco’s best tale since Tales of the City."

OR (still in my head, that glorious beast):

b)   It’s assessed as “Crappy white girl drivel. Its author should be water-boarded for adding to the piles of typewritten trash in which the world is already drowning.”

If I never share my writing, you see, I can inflate and berate myself at whim! I’m then bound to stay twisted up like a stale old pretzel, unable to produce a word…thereby avoiding all possibility of criticism and failure!

Yes, it’s hard to be such a genius of mental gymnastics.

I spent all of 2009 in a dark and fallow state related to my novel and creative pursuits in general. I crawled out from my cave in December, relieved to see a glimmer of a vision for a future life. I agreed to be here happily in idyllic Rockridge; to go nuts for this beautiful family and life; and to take a risk and just start blogging, even though I HATE that term. Yuck. A blog sounds like something coughed up from a smoker’s lung.

Anyway, Praise Be to WordPress, it’s 2010 and I’m writing again! (God, I do annoy myself sometimes. Anyway–I was trying to be positive.) Through this simple outlet of words on a screen, about whatever I want, I feel so much more…myself. Just happier, period. I’m also getting more sleep this year–but that’s another story.

To conclude this one I just have to say, to whisper in everyone’s ears: take that little bit of time you need. Do something small, another step towards your dream, the one you think is too far-reaching.

I have to remind myself that trying and failing makes for a much better story than never trying at all. We have to believe. We have to try. It’d be too painfully boring if we didn’t!

Thanks for reading,

Your Margot