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My reading list grows exponentially. Everytime I read a book, it'll mention three other books I feel I have to read. It's like a particularly relentless series of pop-up ads.
-A.J. Jacobs

Friday, March 12, 2010

Self Doubt

Damn the dreaded self doubt. It has crept its way into my inner being putting a MAJOR block on all creativeness. I look back on the way my first MS got under way, when I had no clue as to what I was doing, yet the words flowed from the deep recesses of my brain and heart, and my muse had no concept of appropriate times to bombard me with ideas, words, and conversations.

When I started writing VISIONS, it was a pipe dream. It was my first attempt to writing a book. A real book. My husband thought I was crazy (which is partly true), friends and family were like, "Oh, that's so nice - a hobby...", and even though I was DEAD serious about it, I was clueless about the process. About the agents and the proper way to write a hook and how you shouldn't have a prologue. Don't even get me started on how blind I was to queries. I wrote because the story spoke to me. It came effortless. And even though I felt like a zombie pushing through 8 hour workdays and 3 hours sleep, living on nothing but words, I loved the feeling.

Finishing it was bittersweet. And up to that point, I had only had my two personal cheerleaders urging me to keep going and filling me with a sense of accomplishment to have gotten as far as I had. I revised and edited countless times, all on my own, because I was ignorant to the publishing world. I had no idea how to find a critique partner. Where to go for help.

Now, that I am fully immersed into the blogging world and I have found an amazing support system, I've written my query, have devoted critique partners, and I'm a part of a tight knit writing community with DFW Writer's Workshop, I am strangely in a dark place. It makes no sense. But the only way that I can describe it is as Rebecca Stead puts it in the book When You Reach Me. She writes on the topic of lifting, for a moment, the "veil" that generally hides from us "the world as it really is," in all its "beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love" (p. 71).

I love this. Because it's so true. The veil was thick on my face, covering my eyes, when I was clueless to the "real" writing world. I wasn't concerned about anything but getting the words down. And they came so naturally and easily.

The blogging world, in all it's fabulous, has lifted a corner of my veil. The agents blogs, the harsh reality of what it is truly like to be a writer, and the holes/major problems in my story are all a part of what it looks like to have my veil lifted.

And while I'm glad to not be naive about the publishing world, I yearn for that deep desire and urgency to write the words that used to be so freely available in my mind -that are now caged by the dos and don'ts that are apparent every where I turn.

The self doubt is taking over, creating a sickening black hole inside me. As excited as I was about making it through the first round of ABNA, I have resolved with myself that I need to be happy with just that because there is A LOT of work that needs to be done on my MS. And it's not just day surgery. It looks like it might need some major reconstructive surgery.

In order to do that, though, I might need to put a thin veil back over my eyes, tune out all of the advice swarming in my brain, and JUST WRITE.

Thankfully, Tina Lynn at Sweet Niblets is crackin' the whip and has offered up a challenge. I am a competetive person by nature, and so when someone says challenge, I'm there. Five hundred words a day. I am doing it. With my veil on - opaque, maybe, instead of my heavy, velvet one I wore before. If you're needing someone to light a fire under your ars, then she might be the person to keep you lit. :)

11 brilliant remarks:

Tina Lynn said...

Thanks for the mention. Ironically (or maybe not so much), I am suffering from the SAME EXACT THING. Even after hearing Shannon Hale talk about writing garbage and having to fix it, I still doubt my abilities. I also follow Janni Lee Simner and she was writing a story and updating along the way. I distinctly remember her saying that she was halfway to the end and wasn't even sure where she was going or if a story was even there. (I'm over-using the word even, sorry---work with me) Anyhow, pubbed authors suffer through the same insecurities as you and I, yet they keep writing. They go on. And that is why they are published. So, let's (you and me) push past our fears and get the words down. Force our muses out into the open. They are vain little gods/goddesses and refuse to believe we can write without their help. You'll be getting my invite soon. April 1st and we will blow the heck out of this thing call writer's block.

jbchicoine said...

Wow--that's like reading a page out of my personal journal! I need to slip back under my velvety veil and find the sheer joy of writing again, without worrying about living up to industry standards.
Thanks so much for sharing that.

Jen said...

I don't think I've commented before, but I found your blog a few weeks ago and have enjoyed reading it. :-) I'm a teacher/ aspiring author too, and totally could have wirtten this post myself! Glad you've got someone who can keep you going!!

DL Hammons said...

Tiff ~ Unfortunately this is a common theme I've seen popping up in the blogosphere. And it is an emotion I've had to face myself time and time again. What writer doesn't? Here's is how I've come to grips with it and maybe you can gleam some insight from it.

I've committed myself to one simple belief...I will not be the one who ends this journey! Somebody else will have to tell me NO. If that message comes in the form of hundreds of rejection letters, then I can accept that. But I won't listen to whispers in the back of my mind trying to poison my determination. The one person's opinion who's unreliable in this whole thing...is my own. So I'll leave it in the hands of those who truly know what it takes. In a way, that's my own sort of veil.

Finish your work and let it be judged.

Christi Goddard said...

I think we're all having this problem lately, Tiffany. The last two weeks I've been in a funk. Even with getting my muse back, all I've done is written down notes and bits of dialogue that come to mind. As far as my book I'm querying... no interest. Part of me wants to give up, but I've never been a quiter.

Shelley Sly said...

I'm right there with you, and reading the other comments, I realize this is much more common than I thought. I like what Tina Lynn said, that published authors also go through this and they push through and keep on writing. Thinking too much about writing is draining and stressful, but if we just let loose and get it on paper, we can deal with it later (I need to take that advice myself.) Good luck with your writing challenge!

sarahjayne smythe said...

I, too, am right there with you. And I love your solution and determination to beat this thing that hobbles all of us at one time or another. I hope it all works out for you.

~Jamie said...

I hear ya!

I wrote THIS blog post http://www.totallythebomb.com/self-doubt-and-suckage

Just ten days before an agent made an offer on my manuscript :) So--I promise there IS hope girl!

Allie said...

don't doubt yourself! you are awesome, and I'm sure your book is fantastic!

Mary Campbell said...

I completely understand what you're saying. So hard to get the words out when we feel that every word is going to be judged. I envy your first novel freedom. I'm still working on my first one and I have just enough writing info to make me doubt my abilities. I was trying for 500 words too - haven't met that goal in awhile. I'm going dark this week and I hope I can get some major writing done.

Tiffany Neal said...

You guys are so great! Thanks for all of the encouragement. I have written some today, and completely rewrote the beginning of chapter 1. Now I'm finishing rewriting the rest of the chapter and then on to chapter 2. One step at a time. 500 words at a time! :)