Last weekend, I just finished one of my shorter stories (as in about 20k, so not that short). It’s always such a weird feeling when I’m done writing something and put it out for people to read, partially because I hammered out about 13k in a week and partially because there’s this extended period of held-breath anticipation while I wait to see what other people think and if my work really was up to snuff.
The problem with that, of course, is that there isn’t really any kind of objective metric by which I can say my work is good or bad (other than the fact that I have complete confidence in my writing skill, so I can say with some certainty that it’s not bad). I can get comments and kudos from people but there’s no magical threshold over which I know I’ve made it, so there’s no way to really feel satisfied, and I just keep being vaguely anxious until I run out of steam about a week later.
It’s kind of like a victory lap except instead of victory and celebration it’s anxiety about whether there are people out there who share my very narrow window of interests. It’s kind of like when you build a Rube Goldberg machine and try the whole thing out for the first time, except the machine just keeps going and there’s no win condition.
It’s not a mystery why it happens–it’s a function of not having well-defined goals before I throw stuff out into the aether. So, by extension, it’d be pretty easy to fix by setting goals (which everyone loves, I’m sure). It’s just that any number I chose would be arbitrary not to mention irrelevant, because a lot of numbers (comments, hits, kudos) are a function of exposure, not my raw writing skill.
It’s not really a bad thing, it’s just a thing that happens. By the end of the week, I’ll stop worrying about this story and get back to work on the next one.