I am hungry for other people’s stories.

I want to spend days reading in front of the fan, gobbling up words. I devoured the entire first season of Friday Night Lights in three days. I’m reading articles in The Atlantic and on blogs about having it all as a woman, about the tricky balancing act of family and ambition. I’m sleeping just to dream of strange worlds and dangerous monsters.

There are days when I cannot wait to write — books, emails, lists, anything, I feel so full-up of words — and then there are days, weeks, like this, when I am insatiable.

I don’t know what I’m looking for. Inspiration? Perspective? Fortitude to dive back into this manuscript that feels like it’s constantly breaking me and then remaking me with the hope that maybe this time I’ve got it right?

I am scared. Writing is what I love most, and now it is my job. The notion of somehow failing in this second book — of disappointing my publisher or readers or myself — terrifies me. I am trying so hard. I want so much. Sometimes it feels like wearing my insides on the outside, like I am stitched together only by wanting and words.

When I get like this, I remind myself that I am lucky; that my book is a real, book-shaped thing on shelves; that readers email me to tell me they loved it and ask after STAR CURSED. That is what I wanted a year ago. But now I want more; I think I will always want more. It’s not to say I’m not grateful for what I have, that it doesn’t make me happy. I am and it does. But I am built to chase challenges.

The words are the only part I can control — not sales, not buzz, not reviews, not promotion — and the pressure to make them good words is sometimes paralyzing.

So I take a big step back, refill the creative well with other people’s words, and crave the confidence to make my own.

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