Thursday, November 16, 2006

Self-doubt and leaping.

I always, in jest, call myself the Queen of Trauma Drama for what I put my characters through. If I am honest though, I am the Queen of Self-Doubt.

I could be Freudian and blame it on my parents. I could blame it on years of school-age trauma. I’m sure I could dig into my past and find a wealth of things to blame it on, but I won’t. Why? Because it doesn’t matter what caused it, I have it.

Most recently I’ve been ignoring it when it came ot my writing. I ‘know’ I can write. I believe I’m talented in it. So the writing itself hasn’t been the cause. No, instead I’ve been traveling the web on my breaks. I’ve spent time at blogs of Agents and their assistants. I’ve read about ‘nitwittery’ and ‘auto-no’s’.

Hey, who needs to doubt the writing, when you can doubt your ability to find an agent and/or publisher, right? After reading one particular post about some auto-no’s I started doubting how to do my novel.

The word count is going to be very high, that can be considered an auto-no. Okay, I could cut the novel in half and end it in the middle. It’s a very good, if a tad bit upsetting ending to those invested in the characters.

If I cut the novel in half, I have to consider the fact that I’d really want to present it as a series then. Oops, wait. Those are auto-no’s too. Either way, this book is a series in my heart, so I’m still facing that.

I know I can’t write a query letter to save my arse. That’s not self-doubt, that’s fact. But, I also know I have help in that area. Of course there’s the “Can I get the novel done in time? I set a goal for *this date*, but will it be accomplished?”

Then, this Monday I was forced to face my own self-doubt when the admins opened the Elevator. In the elevator I would have to announce, for all to see, my goals. I would be expected to meet them. Checked up on.

I’ll tell you what, my biggest flaw is lack of follow- through. I’ve wanted to write a novel for years and never gotten past the first few pages. I make commitments for so many things that I’ve never followed through on. My ‘dreams’ always seem to fly away on the wind. Here, at Storycrafter’s, the whole ‘world’ I’ve found could see my imminent failure if I posted those goals.

Yesterday I made that commitment post with shaking hands. I stared at the screen for two hours before I hit ‘submit’. My own self-doubt almost prevented me from making a solid commitment to something I believe in with all my heart, my novel.

I won’t tell you that I ‘got over’ my doubt, because I didn’t. I still stare at my post and say, “What have I done?” But, I’ll tell you how I did manage to hit submit after two hours of debate.

I closed my eyes.

Looking for a profound statement? Sorry, none here. I was scared out of my wits to make a commitment not only to my novel, but to writing quarterly ‘other’ items to submit. I’d HAVE to finish that article on FTT. Not only that, but I’d have to come up with others.

I wish I could say I did it because I’d had an epiphany. It simply isn’t true. The same facts were present when I hit submit as when I was waiting. I still knew my husband, though he didn’t understand, supported me. I still knew that I had capable reader’s to assist me. I still knew that I’d have the support of Storycrafter’s. Those were never in doubt.

What happened was I faced the fact. The same one that made me finally audition for local theatre shows five years ago after years of dreaming of being onstage. A simple sentence told to me by a performer I met and still admire.

Nearly six years ago I told him of my doubts of being able to audition. Standing there, at the stage door on Broadway, he reminded me he hadn’t started dancing until he was twenty. Despite that, he was standing there in the most intensive dance show ever. Then he said the one thing I’ll remember forever.

“If you do it and fail, you’ll have at least done it. If you don’t do it, you’ll never know what it felt like. You’ll always wonder what could have happened.”

He was as right about my performance dreams as he is now about my writing dreams.

It’s not an epiphany. It’s a leap. Not a leap of faith, a leap into the pits of self-doubt. I dare say I became successful in performance. Now it’s time to focus on this leap.

At least I know I’m not alone.


Jean said...

Wow!!! What a post. Thanks for sharing with us.

Sassy and I both have mentioned how it feels like we are jumping off a cliff with this Elevator committment. But, we wanted to challenge everyone to take the risk, set some goals and see what happens. It is sorta like doing NaNo. You never know unless you try.

And you know's darned scary for us too. But it's also exciting.

One thing I know for myself, if I don't set goals and time deadlines, I tend to not get things done. This time next year I want a major publishing contract in had and if I don't set those goals and decide what it will take to make them happen, I'll accomplish nothing during the next year. So, I set goals and set off the cliff.

I'm glad you are stepping off with me:-)


Oh...I've been reading the agent blogs for about a year now. It has really been an education in the way the publishing industry really works. thing I've learned "GOOD WRITING TRUMPS ALL". Don't worry about those "auto no's. Just write your story your way...worry about the rest later:--)

Lorib said...

Here, Here!!

That post touched a lot on how I'm feeling too.

Making a commitment means taking my work seriously and treating it as a profession.

Thanks for sharing that Sadie and I wish you the best in achieving all of your goals.

Sherry Heidelberger-Blackburn said...

I know just what you mean Sadie. I likened my commitment to the first time I dove off the platform dive into 17 ft. of water. I was 12 and thought I was fearless, till I got up there and couldn't see anything but concrete below. I couldn't very well back down the stairs tho could I? No. So I dove. And you know what? It was so exhilarating, so thrilling, that before I caught my breath good, I was climbing those stairs again.
Thanks for sharing.

Candela Martinez said...

Wow, DITTO. Great post. I felt the very same way all the planning Speck and I have been doing for a few months now. Just as you all, WE are having to face that mirror of realization. We are honored to be in the "driver's" seat as we go forth this coming year. We do not take it lightly and we will struggle with you, cry with you, and eat lots of chocolate. What else are friends for? May we all find publishing success before 2007 is over.

Cheryl said...

Oh, the time I waste when I don't set goals. I can understand exactly where you're coming from. I even waste time when I do set goals, but with the whole world of StoryCrafters prodding and kicking me, I'm sure I will get better.

I wonder if I'll ever make it in the industry too, but I guess I'll never know if I don't give it a shot.

I'm so glad we're all in it together.