I’m going to a writers conference in a few weeks but I have been stricken with a sudden case of “Who Am I Kidding?” I have a portion of a novel written and even though a week ago I thought, “Hey, I can do this; it’s not bad,” recent days have left me convinced that it is boring and stupid and bad. Who am I kidding? (Not me. I am not fooled by myself.)
Listen. Anne Lamott says you have to write a “shitty” first draft (her word, not mine, but it is the perfect word for the occasion). I repeat that to myself. But I wonder if I can even do that. As an alternative, I think a memoir would be just the thing . . . and then I think I am delusional. And then I want a cookie and a nap.
I am bracing myself for a hard slap of reality, accompanied by a big dollop of rejection. I am a pessimistic person by nature and now I am drowning in a sea of gloom. I’ve got to snap out of it! Or eat more cookies.
I was at a dinner party recently and someone had to mention that I am writing a novel (which is not entirely accurate–mostly I am avoiding writing my novel because I am paralyzed with terror) . . . and someone said, “Tell us what it’s about,” and I had the good sense to say, “No!” Everyone laughed. I was off the hook and the conversation moved on. I am embarrassed to be writing a novel because it seems foolhardy and insane. It’s like telling someone you are building a house with your own two hands when you don’t even own a hammer.
But in a couple of weeks, I need to be able to answer that question (“What is your novel about?”) in a tidy paragraph. It would be helpful if I came up with a title. Calling it “Novel Ha Ha” is not going to cut it.
I think I’ll bake some cookies.
14 thoughts on “Crisis of confidence”
You are a very good writer.
Just remember your value as a human being is not based on the quality of your novel. It is not.
God has given to you a wonderful talent. Take and run with it. Fear is not something we need to have, when a talent is given to us by the Father.
I believe you will do fine…
Well, if the novel is about this really cool woman with this really interesting life living somewhere along the Puget Sound, I’d read it!
Even moreso if she has really great kids who drive her deeply insane and a really wonderful husband who lets her go to movies by herself, well, I’d read it.
Now, if she has a really weird sister who took pictures of her butt and won’t give them back, well, there you go. I’m in.
I cannot write a novel. I depend entirely too much on the word ‘really’. Really. I do that.
I’m glad to know you are doing it! You are inspirational…really…:)
If you come up with that tidy paragraph, I’m interested.
I agree with Judy.
Your blog and Judy’s blog are the only two non-knitting blogs I always read, even when I’m busy and hardly reading anything else online.
Don’t be fooled by your opinion of your writing. You’re too overly familiar with it to understand why so many others will love to read it.
You have the basics to be a professional author. Work through the learning curve and I’ll be proud to say I read Mel before she was published.
I have to agree with everything your other commenters say (except I haven’t read Judy’s blog yet, but I will). Also, that you’ve got to give yourself permission to write a s****y first draft. Sometimes perfection & the fear of doing something wrong are what trip us up & cause us to miss out on some great stuff in life. Not that I know you or think you’re like that (ok, maybe a little based on what I’ve read of your blog). It’s normal to be paralyzed, but it’s ok to do something that you know is not gonna be perfect on the first try. (I bet it will be a lot less sucky than you think!) Keep trying!
its not foolhardy. its not insane.
you are talented. =)
No matter what happens, DO NOT STOP WRITING. You have talent. Scads of it. And on top of that, you already have skill which will only increase as you keep it up. Please do, regardless of whether publishers and critics are kind or not. Do it because it’s what God gave you.
The fact that you are saying I am writing a novel on your blog, in my book, makes you one brave and ballsy chick.
Congratulations : )
Mel… If I can write a book- you can!! You have WAY more talent than I could even think of having when it comes to writing!! I’m only writing my book because I know it’s what God wants me to do & I’m actually letting Him write it for me…I’m just the typist & I have NO CLUE as to what I’m doing but I feel pretty good about it… I think anything you write WILL be wonderful!! Don’t wimp out!!! You’ve got what it takes!!! Just look in the mirror & tell yourself that. When you get the book done let me know, I can’t wait to read it!
Maybe you could write a novel ABOUT eating the cookies. I’d totally read that. (grin)
Deep down I don’t think there are many successful, creative people who really feel fully confident their work. And for the ones who get too confident, they usually create ( or star in) a bomb. A bit of uncertainty goes a long way in keeping the creative edge sharp. Not that it makes it any easier, mind you.
Just keep doing what you’re doing and continue to learn from others as you keep going. You’ve got the goods to deliver! Can’t wait to read it.
I think the thought of pursuing our secret dreams is one of the most terrifying things there is. Walking past the fear and actually pursuing them is one of the most freeing and exhilarating experiences there is. You writing a novel isn’t any more insane or foolhardy than me taking up acting at the age of 42 after an almost 20 year absence from the theatre. I thought I was going to throw up walking into that first audition. That was 2 years and 5 shows ago. Take the energy you are expending trying to talk yourself out of this and put it into writing. You’ll be fine.