Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Doubt, or What Was I Thinking???

We all get it. That slow, sinking, gut-churning doubt. We're not good enough. What we just wrote? Garbage. No one should read it. Ever.

But, what if it isn't terrible? What if it's good, really good, and we can't see it because we hold on to that cloud of self-doubt and fear of not being "good enough?"

I usually write young adult science fiction, but in November, I jumped on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon and churned out 60K words that actually, somehow, made up a story that wasn't YA or scifi. It was about Sawyer, a college-aged girl with a dark secret, and Andrew, an ex-Marine with one leg, and how they fall in love. It's so different from everything else I wrote, I thought the entire manuscript was trash. But I pushed through, revised, edited, and pitched it at Christmas time during a Twitter pitch contest.

People liked the pitch. Agents, and publishers. So I followed the guidelines, and submitted to an adult romance publisher, as well as the agent. Both came back saying the writing was good, but the story/premise was stale. I. Was. Devastated.

I gave up. I went back to what I knew, set the other characters and their story aside. I got a publishing contract for my first YA manuscript (see here for more details). Meanwhile, I couldn't stop thinking about Andrew and Sawyer, and their story. So I asked on Twitter if anyone was interested in reading the manuscript, and a few said yes.

Now, I'm no stranger to doubt. We're practically twins. So when I sent Sawyer and Andrew's story off, doubt crept in like a cancer eating away at my insides. The next morning, I got the first reader feedback: my manuscript doesn't suck. She liked it, all of it. I'm not saying everyone will like my style of writing or my stories, but knowing one person out there enjoyed what I wrote goes a long way to squeezing out some of the doubt lingering inside.

I think all writers (and indeed, everyone who puts themselves out there) experience a certain level of doubt at some point in their lives, but it doesn't have to define you. When someone praises your writing, your story, own it! Celebrate it! Because you earned that moment of glory.

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