Self-doubt is a motherf***er

So, I guess it’s no secret. I like to write.

Even better, I like for people to read what I write and enjoy it. Ideally, I’d like for people to buy the stuff I write. I think I’m a good writer. There are days I think I’m a great writer.

But there are days when I’m increasingly sure that I’m no kind of writer at all. Those are the days when it eats at me that I’ve yet to land an agent. That I’ve yet to land interest of any kind from a Big Six publisher. There are days I think my alligator mouth has overloaded my jaybird ass — that all the big dreams I’ve ever had are never going to come true.

I do a lot more wishing than I do writing. And that’s a problem. Because now when I sit down to write, I begin things and don’t finish. I end up just letting things peter out. I’ve got a wicked little YA novel that needs editing. I’ve got four–count ’em, FOUR–novel-length manuscripts in the works. I’ve got ideas for two others.

I feel the desperate need to write, but I ignore it. And when I do sit down to write, nothing comes. Or what comes is a juvenile mishmash of word vomit that I’d be ashamed to show anyone. Self-doubt takes over and I consider never writing another word. Ever. But then the itch comes back. It’s like herpes — that shit never goes away. The urge to write may take a short hiatus, but it always, always comes back. I feel incomplete and at odds with myself when I don’t write.

So I end up acting like Hamlet. But instead of being, I vacillate about writing. My friend, Cassie Clarke, has heard me threaten to quit writing so often that she simply tells me to shut the hell up and get back to it, because she knows I’ll be writing again soon anyway. And she’s right.

The trouble is, I won’t be publishing. Not without an agent. Not without a publishing contract. I’ve thought and thought about going indie, and if I can grow my platform enough, I wouldn’t mind doing that. But it’s a moot point if I grow an audience without ever producing anything.

I was joking with the lovely Anne-Mhairi (that’s Anne-Marie to us colonists) Simpson that what I really need is a man with a gun, who will point it at my skull until I sit in a chair and write a gorram novel.

Anne-Mhairi (Anne-Marie, remember?), MB Mulhall, Jessica Corra, Valerie Haight, Angi Black and Melody Platz were all very kind to offer great words of encouragement. It’s hugely appreciated, y’all.

I’ve got to get over this hump and get back to writing. Even if I’m not as good as I think I am, I want to improve. I want my name on a book you can walk into a store and buy.

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6 thoughts on “Self-doubt is a motherf***er

  1. There’s a great quote I picked up from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: You’ve got to stop putting your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.

    Like it or not, wishing is the first step, not all the others. You wish for something and then you work to make it happen. So get back in that chair and WRITE!!

  2. Here’s your issue Bobby my boy. You seem to be expecting greatness to pour out of you from the first get go and I don’t think that happens for the majority of us writer types. I’ve seen your work. It’s good, but it can always be better with editing and re-writes. 98% of the stuff you see on the shelves in the stores has been re-written several times. It’s a normal occurrence and editing and re-writing don’t mean you’re a crappy author, it mean no one’s perfect and you are smart enough to make it better.

    Quit harping on the little stuff for the moment. Don’t re-read more than a couple of paragraphs that you wrote the day/time before.Keep the editing to a minimum. Keep moving forward til you get to the end. THEN you can go back, declare it crap if you want, and work on fixing it.

  3. You. Are. Awesome. Write, write, write. Learn, learn, learn. But most of all, HAVE FUN! Take the pressure off yourself and just laugh! Keep going, don’t stop and before you know it, you’ll have that contract. And then you’ll have two or more!! THAT’S when the pressure starts so have fun while you can!! This is the best part, dood. Learning to be greater. Don’t stress til you have to!! 😀 *laughing with you* Cuz it’s so much fun!!

  4. Seems to me like the first step is to STFU and write. If today’s inspiration is a blog entry, fine. If tomorrow it’s a dirty limerick, fine. If next Tuesday it’s YA fiction, fine. If you’re writing _something_ then there’s likely some psychological and/or creative value in that.

    But there’s a question in here somewhere that’s nagging to be asked, guess I’ll be the prick to do it. It goes a little something like this:

    WHY are you writing? Because you want to? Or are even compelled to? Or is it just a means to a profitable end? I’ll accept the risk of assuming that the answer lives somewhere in the neighborhood of the 1st/2nd options.

    But I read this & I get very little sense of joy about the act of writing, I’m afraid you may need to find that again in order to accomplish the rest. You ain’t Stephen King (insert other name here as desired), so just grinding out formula for a paycheck doesn’t seem like an option right now. From my cheap seat in the peanut gallery I imagine that figuring out where you lost that joy (or where it’s hiding) seems like a pretty necessary thing at this stage.

    FWIW.

  5. Really, the first step in getting published isn’t having an agent or a book deal — it’s having a book to sell in the first place. I mean, writing doesn’t de facto lead to getting published, but it is a requirement.

    I agree with what others have said, that you need to take the pressure off and write some stuff. When you sit down at your computer, think of it in terms of telling whatever story you want to tell, or creating something, or whatever. Once it’s finished, then you can mess with the (admittedly soul-crushing) process of trying to find an agent. But if you’re worrying about query letters when all you’ve got is an opening paragraph and some character ideas, then you’re going to be so paralyzed you won’t be able to finish. Anyone would! Query letters are demons spawn from hell that feed on creative energy.

    You’ve got plenty of talent, but it seems to me that worrying about getting published as you’re writing is making you think otherwise. Just my two cents, though!

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