I am ashamed. Deeply so. I used to read the blog posts about other writers who just couldn’t seem to push through that wall, who weren’t inspired, who struggled with their plot, who wailed about not being able to create dimensional characters. And you know what? I just didn’t get it. My experience, up ‘til now at least, was so easy breezy. The words never failed to come. The plot was clear as a sunny
day. (Yes, the sun does occasionally shine here and when it does, oh boy!) And my characters were so alive, I cried over their tragedies on a daily basis. Seattle
Of course, I didn’t know any better at the time. I didn’t write to be published. I didn’t write for any other reason than I had this story in my head and it needed to be released for my sanity’s sake. And then when I did decide to seek the road to publication, I muddled along and weathered the trials all writers stumble with. But I never fell down without being able to get back up. And I never doubted myself either. I was too naïve. For whatever reason, I felt there was someone or something outside of myself that wanted this done, who put me on this path with the notion that I would succeed. A sort of divine intervention.
I finished my book and wrote my query and I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. So now it’s time to move on from that project. Time to prove it wasn’t just some fluke, that I do have another book in me. As I was finishing up the first, I had a few decent ideas, one of which I picked because it was intriguing and I’d never read a story like it before. But all the while, I was worried because, unlike the first time, those words weren’t coming, the plot was elusive, and the characters foggy.
Here was the doubt all those other writers wrote about, the kind I never had any understanding of. I panicked. I was desperate to prove I was, in fact, a writer with more than one story. And I know the story is there, but I just can’t see the details clearly. When I read that one writer I follow took four or five years to write his novel, I cringed. How can anyone have the tenacity to work on something for that long and not give up, to not lose interest? It seemed unreal. Improbable. The fact that nothing was clicking into place made me question if I could do it again. Did I have that stubbornness to work through the difficulties month after month, possibly year after year?
Well, what I have discovered is that, although the story hasn’t been dropped into my lap whole, as was the case the first time around, I do have small details that take shape a few times each day. I write them down on my virtual “Brainstorming” notepad on my iPhone. I scribble in my notebooks. I keep reading in my genre, reading books on craft. I keep blogging and making connections. And I keep in mind that the process this time is the same, only slower, much, much slower, that this challenge is what will actually make me a writer, what will prove that I do have it in me.
It’s the difficult times that prove our true mettle. If it was always easy, it wouldn’t be much of an accomplishment. Am I insecure now? You bet. Do I doubt if I can really do this again. Every single day. Until the first draft is complete, I will always doubt whether I am a real writer or not. But I don’t think there is a writer out there who hasn’t had the same doubts. It’s a battle scar, proof of a hard-won personal war. I guess I no longer feel like an untested rookie. It might just take me a few years this time instead of a few months, but as long as I continue to make the slightest bit of progress each day or week, I’m good with that. At least, I hope so.
How ‘bout you? You good with that?