I do not have to be Te, just because I love Post-Grad. I do not have to try to be Te, or hate reading her work even though I love it, just because I'm not her.
I do not have to be Saber, with all of the aforementioned codicils. I don't have to be Donna or Jessica or Sam, or Pet. I don't even have to be James. (Though sometimes in the middle of a story, I suspect that I am.) I can love them, without being jealous of them. Or, because I'm human, perhaps I should say, I can be jealous of them, without deciding it's not worth writing another solo word, simply because they exist in this world.
I don't have to write darkfic just because most of the writers whom I consider to be talented are writing it. Deep, bloody, sweaty details, nerve-wracking inner turmoil, painful, empty sex, are all artistically lovely, but the fact that I don't have them in CG doesn't make it a bad series, or me a bad writer.
I can enjoy feedback, and I can read both positive and critical LOCs, but I don't have to assume the critical ones are the voice of God speaking to me, simply because they stand out among the one-liners and the please-mores. I can take them as they come, read and digest them, and continue to tell the story as best I can, without obsessing over the person who tells me that the dance is getting old. It's food for thought, not the pronouncements of the Delphic Oracle.
I am my own worst critic, which is right and good, but I do not have to be a neurotic, depressive, eye-scratching psycho-hosebeast. Or, as H would say, a flaming electronic bastard. I do not have to berate myself over the fact that my writing style has changed since I started CG. Over the fact that I have fewer direct thoughts, that Spike's mind-voices don't pop up as much, that the humour comes and goes as it pleases. I just have to tell the story, (say it with me) as best I can.
I don't even have to do that.
Right. I don't have to write CG at all. I *want* to, because there are stories, both fluffier and angstier, that I want to tell, after this torturous arc that I plotted myself into is over. But I don't owe anyone a continuation, except myself. If I never post another chapter of CG, I may get complaints out the wazoo, but I do *not* have to feel guilty about them. I don't accept that posting a WIP means the author has an agreement with the readers -- sorry Te, or Debchan, or whichever of you deeply thoughtful goddesses expressed that opinion. My sanity, such as it is, is more important. Or my emotional stability, or simply my need to do something else for the next ten years. Not that I plan to do that, not that I don't plan to post more chapters of CG. But I don't have to, and I need to remind myself of that in a place where people who have been telling me that for months can see me do it.
I don't have to be Stephen King, even though I like his book on writing. I don't have to be Annie Dillard. I don't have to surf fanfic-don't sites to improve my writing -- I know these things that bother other slashers; they bother me too. I don't have to assume I'm doing them too much, just because I recognise their existence. I don't have to continually re-think the central turn of my plot because it makes one character look too weak or the other too love's-bitch. I don't have to assume ranters are talking about me, when they don't even know me, have never heard of me, aren't even in my fandom, and would most likely say 'who?' if my name were mentioned.
Solipsism does not become me. ;-)
I do not have to feel like a failure because they would most likely say 'who?' if my name were mentioned. My worth as a writer does not depend on whether literate people from outside my fandom or 'ship like my stuff so much that they rec it on its sheer artistic merit. I am a moron, if I think I'm writing for the sake of artistic merit, anyway.
My worth as a human being does not depend on my worth as a writer. (Though I'm not entirely happy with my worth as a human being in the non-writing realm at the moment.)
I don't have to write at all. Except that it makes me feel good to create things, whether it's a scene that turns me on, or a bit of humour that makes me giggle, or a storyline that I feel has good, crunchy angst potential. I sometimes need to write. And that's fine, but I need to write for me first (and my friends second, and everybody else in the whole bloody world fourth, with an empty space in third place for my cats, should they choose to accept the nomination.)
If I really don't feel like writing, I don't have to write -- but I don't have to look for other things to do online or off, in order to avoid my writing, because I'm afraid of it. All I have to do is do it.
Yay! Got that off my chest. Now I'm going to go check the Spoiler Board again.
/me ducks and runs for cover. Jeez! Just kidding! Mostly.
Oh, and I can listen to all the country music I want, and I don't have to care if y'all laugh at me.
Goes off to get Pepsi. Want caffeine, now.