Persistent Irrational Doubts

February 6, 2012

I so needed to hear this this morning.

I was driving in to work this morning wondering why I’m having such a hard time writing this second book of mine. Why am I resisting something I enjoy doing so much? Am I really even a writer, as I supposed? Was writing the first one just a fluke? I mean, it hasn’t even been published yet. What if it’s not as good as I imagine. What if I’m completely delusional in not only thinking I can do this but that I should be doing this.

And it seems every time I’m feeling particularly deficient, Robin McKinley kindly voices her own doubts which reassures me that at the very least I’m not alone in this. And decades of writing and publishing don’t necessarily assuage anything I’m going through (which is also a bit daunting – you mean it never gets better!?). But it’s enough to keep me writing. To keep me going forward just enough to get this draft written and then worry about what comes after that when I get there.

It still seems to me going well. I can risk saying that (I hope) because I know there will be days between now and the rmmph of March when it is not going well, when I am not a writer, I never was a writer, and I’m starting my retraining as a mechanic* in the next uptake.** Which is to say I know I’m going to be paying for good days whether or not I admit to having them so why not admit it? See: wrestling alligators, below.

I learned how hard it is to make a story. . . . I did learn to take something in the range of horrible/okay and shove it around into okay/pretty okay, even if I didn’t think it was anything I’d want to read. It’s HARD. I’d never realized before how much work it was, even for those gifted people in my classes who did “hear” their stories right off. Drafts and voice and tweaking and word choice and why is that character there again?

Thank you. Yes. It’s HARD. This is why The Urge to Kill people who offer to split the money with you if they give you their Great Idea and you do the dull stupid labour of writing it up because the idea is the hard part and besides you already have the name and the publishing contacts, is pretty overwhelming. Fortunately most of these offers come by post/email. Back in the days when I went to more live things and people used occasionally to offer this blithering asininity to my face civilised restraint was more difficult.

But. Yes. It’s like wrestling alligators. WHY IS THAT CHARACTER FOLLOWING ME AROUND? GO AWAY. YOU DON’T BELONG IN THIS STORY. Er. Do you? What have I missed this time? Writing is also brilliant and fascinating and enormous fun . . . but those alligators bite hard. And the regeneration of major body parts is tiring and demoralising and takes time, which you probably haven’t got.

full entry here at Robin McKinley’s blog

We’re an amusingly neurotic lot, aren’t we?

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2 responses to “persistent, irrational doubts

  1. I don’t think you can have doubt without also having “the drive”. Doubt is what fuels us to become better at our craft. We see Rockstar sized egos fail because they stopped doubting their talents, and blazed ahead producing steaming piles all because they believed themselves to be infallible? Doubt keeps us humble and striving to improve.