This writing thing’s a tough gig. You write a story–polish it until your eyes go crosseyed, and then query it to fabulous agents that you know can champion your book with the best of them. It’s all very exciting and fun-filled. But, then you wait….
…and you wait….
… and just when you thought you couldn’t wait not one minute longer….
… that’s right–you wait some more….
It’s tough, and in that waiting time you start writing something else, because hey if that story isn’t your happily-ever-after, then maybe the next one is. But, there’s some other things that happen while you wait that we the writer crew try not to talk about too much, because we are trying to stay all positive and such.
The self-doubt kicks in. It’s that whole, “Whoa, what if I suck like those people on So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol who think they can sing and dance, but really they just can’t… at all.)
Sure good writing is subjective, and its art and all that fun stuff, but people know bad writing when they hear it.
I attend this weekly crit group, and I love it. I’m always super nervous when I read, and so far every time I’ve finished people have pretty much told me they loved my stuff. Tonight I was paid one of the highest writing compliments I’ve ever received– a long standing member of the crit group told me that my work reminded him of just the right blend of fellow crit group attendees Rosemary Clement-Moore and Candace Havens. When I picked my jaw up off the floor, I thanked him and pretty much felt like I was on cloud 99. (That’s way cooler than boring ‘ol cloud 9, don’t you think?)
The rest of my group said great things about my chapters and pretty much loved it, but this doesn’t stop me from thinking I might suck. Seriously, I start to think about how my read was sandwiched between two amazing writers and worry I was just a filler read in between awesomeness, and that’s when the self doubt kicks in. I start to think things like, “Wait–what if they’re just being nice because my work is so beyond repair that they see no way of helping me.” or “Those guys just didn’t want to see a grown woman cry.”
How do we know that we don’t suck? Do we listen to the opinions of others? Do we believe people when they say the nice things just as much as we believe people when they say the not-s0-nice things?
No one ever wants to be made a fool, right? Is that just another risk we’re taking when we put our heart and guts* out on paper?
I guess I have no other choice but to keep going for it, and I think–for now at least–I’ll believe that the people who tell me my stuff’s pretty good are telling the truth, and not just trying to make me feel good.
*Not my actual heart and guts, that’d just be way nasty. I was talking all metaphor like.