Most people who know me would tell you that I am a pretty confident person. I’ve managed to be more or less successful as a librarian, a storyteller, and an interpreter…almost anything I have tried my hand at professionally.
Writing is something different, though. Even though I have published several books, and big things are looming on the horizon, I don’t think I will ever be truly confident as a writer. When I think about all the rejections and the disheartening editorial letters and the years and years it has taken to get to this place, I am amazed that I am here at all. The only reason I haven’t given up is that I am really good at staying busy and ignoring the negative. Still, the smallest things can shoot down your confidence. Here’s a short list of things that can derail you, if you’re me:
- Your least favorite person in the world gets a book deal.
- Your favorite person in the world gets a book deal.
- Your least favorite person’s book is so successful that it spawns a movie.
- Someone close to you refuses to read your work, saying, “If I don’t like it, you’ll be mad at me.”
- You read a terrible book and fume that such a horrendous writer got published before you.
- You read an amazing book and sink into depression that you will never write anything that good.
And then there’s this: in the spring of 2011, my good friend Annette passed away. She was an early reader of The Library of the Gods, and helped me work out several plot issues. (She’s there, in the story, too – but only readers who knew her well are likely to spot her cameo.) After her death, I suffered my worst writer’s block ever. It was only when another friend and former writing partner I hadn’t seen in over ten years contacted me out of the blue that I was able to get it together again. I will always credit Annette’s spirit with giving her the nudge to send that well-timed friend request.
And this current slump I’m in? I could blame the weather, or the flu that knocked me for a loop in February, or letting too much of a lull happen between working on different projects. Or just plain old scaredy-cat fear. But the truth is, part of the reason I like novel-writing is that it’s unlike any of the other projects I work on. It’s never going to be perfect; it’s never going to fit into a timeline or a to-do list or a specific writing technique. It has to unfold on its own. So while I ruminate over the revision I am about to undertake, I shall allow myself not to rush it.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the persistence to finish the damn book.