Saturday, February 26, 2011

Self-Doubt Crept In

Self-doubt crept in when I wasn't looking. 

Last night, I printed off fresh copies of both books I have almost done - one needs edits, the other needs edits and the last three chapters.  I proudly showed my husband the huge printed manuscripts.  (Yes, I sacrificed trees and ink.  I do a better job of editing when I have a printed page and a red pen instead of a page down button and fat fingers.)

I was happy.  I told him how I plan to write two more books before the end of the summer in addition to polishing these two.  I have a solid idea for a second children's book and also a collection of stories with a feminist slant.  He was proud of me and incredibly enthusiastic. 

Everything I have read lately has said that the key to getting published is to write.  Write and edit and write some more.  Then go back to what you wrote last month and make edits.  With every passing month of writing, your writing will mature, same as practicing a sport or playing a musical instrument. 

I think my writing class is great for getting feedback on my writing.  We meet weekly, have something prepared, and read it out loud to a small group of writers (the same group every week for the most part) or in the larger group.  The small group has been great for feedback on the book I am writing now.  I usually have time to read one chapter and try to take the feedback and apply it to the other chapters as well, not just the one I read.  For example, in class this week one of the writers told me I repeated "he said" or "she said" too much in some of the dialogue.  When I read through my story today, I will look for that everywhere, not just the chapter I read this week.  The problem is I have written 14 chapters but only have had 5 or 6 classes so far this term.  In the first class I read a poem since the reading time was limited.  I need more class.

I shared this with my husband and suggested that I take a fiction writing class at the local university this fall.  I could bring in something I've already written to get feedback - again, feedback I can apply to all of my writing.  My basic style isn't going to change - but details that make it more polished and readable can't hurt.

I had the idea of going to graduate school for creative writing instead of literature, which I plan to do when my baby is in pre-school, a plan I have set aside more than once because of the insane amount of time it takes to manage my family and to take the time I do have to write.  My husband loved the idea.  I could student teach creative writing instead of literature.  I imagined myself saying, "Today, we will write like Sylvia Plath," with complete happiness.  What could be more fun, seriously? 

Something happened overnight - after all the confidence I expressed, self-doubt showed itself.  I woke up immediately thinking I am completely full of shit and my two manuscripts are far from complete.  Self-doubt kills.  I can't understand how I can go from one extreme to the next overnight without consciously thinking it through.  If my kids expressed pride in what they did in one evening and a complete lack of confidence the next day, I would talk them right out of it and tell them specifically how they are accomplished and amazing and why they should keep working.

For me, I need to remind myself that I always wanted to be a writer, I love writing - love it!, and that I have never imagined myself being at a place in my life where I have more than enough quality writing samples from different genres to even have the opportunity to apply to a graduate program in creative writing.  Today I am at that place, and that is huge.  OK - my pep talk to myself didn't quite work - but I'm close.  Maybe I need to write a little bit of fiction and get that feeling back....

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