First my update, and it ends with a goodie. Last week, I said my revision was zooming along. By mid-week, I was back to feeling insecure about the story. Doubts were cloudy my mind. Will people get it? Will people other than me think it’s good? Will they be entertained? Will they understand everything that’s going on? Will they think it’s cheesy? For some reason, I had a real fear that people would think my story is cheesy.
I know I’m not alone in these thoughts. When I read Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, I was surprised and comforted to find that she has the same doubts every time she writes. Maybe she doesn’t think her work is cheesy, but that’s just how my mind works. All writers have doubts. They have them during the first draft, the second, the tenth. They have them at the beginning of the story, the middle and the end. I’m sure published writers had doubts cross their minds the day before their book was put on shelves. It’s just the nature of who we are and what we do. We create something and send it out into the world. It’s our child. Of course, we’re going to worry about it. The truth is that it’s bound to come back a little bruised, but hopefully, it gets more loving than bruising.
My biggest problem was that no one other than me had read past the middle, and the middle of my novel has a turning point that changes the story quite a bit. My critique group, with only five pages each session, isn’t at that point yet. So here I was, getting to the end of what I wanted to be my final revision/polish round, and I had no feedback on this all important crossing point in the middle of the book. I also didn’t have any idea if the finale worked for anyone other than myself. And I’m too close to the story. I know things that are not written on the page, so it’s easier for me to think it works. I needed someone else’s opinion.
This weekend, I got that — and now I feel much better.
My husband, a really good writer in his own right, although he doesn’t do it for a career, had read early drafts of the beginning of the book, but as I was making so many changes, he asked to read it when I was done, when I was happy with it. Last week, I told him I was going to be done by the weekend. So, on Saturday, I printed out the first 200 pages, and he read while I finished editing the last 26 pages, which I had been working on for the last couple days.
In one sitting, which is unusual for my husband for any book, he read the whole thing, then when he got to page 200 and I hadn’t yet delivered the rest of the manuscript, he came running down to my office to see if I was done editing. Honestly, he looked like a kid waiting for his birthday cake. It was cute. But I wasn’t sure if that was a sign of, “I love it,” or “I really want to be done with this so I can do something else.”
Well, all my doubts went away when he was done. He told me he loved it. And then I barraged him with questions, and we had a good discussion about all kinds of aspects of the book.
I feel much better now that I have confirmation from someone else that the story works for them too. (Ordinarily, I would steer people away from using their husband or any family member as a gauge for a work’s validity, but in my case, my husband will tell me when I can do better. He has in the past. It hurt, but he was right. And a friend from my critique group is reading it too, so when she’s done, I’ll have more than one opinion.)
So now, I still have some finishing touches to do, but then I’ll be good with it. After I’ve written a query letter and synopsis — which will probably take me another couple months to fine-tune — I’ll send out the manuscript.
As I lay in bed trying to sleep Saturday night, I was thinking about the fact that I’ll be sending out this book soon. Those doubts crept in all over again — guess they never truly go away — but this time, there were fewer of them.
Do you have doubts? How do you deal with them?
Now onto the next installment of the Community Story. Anyone got a better name, other than Community Story? And let me know if you’re enjoying it.
The last couple sections are first, then I’ve added my next bit at the end. No adds from you guys for last week, so make this your week to join in the fun. Post what you think should come next in the comments section. If you’re new to the Community Story, click here for the full thing so far. Or if time is tight — because you should be writing — just make it up. It’s only for fun.
Bonnie tried to speak, but her throat was dry.
What did this woman want? It had been 13 years since Bonnie had escaped, 13 years since she discovered her so called “cause” wasn’t anything more than an excuse for blood-hungry psycopaths to murder and pillage.
Bonnie gulped. It was so hard to believe she had been part of those horrors. She never regretted leaving. She never regretted telling the police. But then again, she never thought they’d find her again.
Now she had one choice, pretend she wasn’t the whistleblower that broke apart their criminal organization and go along with whatever plans they have in store for her, or resist. She knew her Star Trek well, and although these people weren’t the Borg, Bonnie figured option number 1 was best — for now.
“S’pose you want some water,” the voice said, thrusting a Heinz tomato sauce can in Bonnie’s face. “I rinsed it out first. Don’t have any proper cups.”
Bonnie took it and gulped the water, immediately feeling better. She handed the can back to the woman with a nod for more.
“Good thing we found you,” the woman said. “Gecko’s guys were right on your tail, and they won’t be nearly as forgiving as we will be.”
The woman refilled the can, and Bonnie drank again, feeling her energy returning with every drop.
She looked around. The only door was behind the woman, and the grimy windows were too high and too small for her to crawl through. She wondered where she was. She knew asking would be a waste of time, but she decided to try it anyway.
“Where am I?” she asked, her voice still cracking.
What’s happening next? You decide. Post the next section in the comments and it’ll be added to the story next Monday.
Just found your blog, and wow, what perfect timing!
I’ve been on quite a roll this weekend, adding about 7,000 words in the past two days. It was an emotional high at first, like YES I can do it, and it’s great.
Then just now I started to feel extreme doubt, wondering why I’m doing this and convincing myself that no one else will get as excited about it as me.
I went blog surfing, and found yours and am so happy to find other people who feel the same way!!
Keep us updated on your query process, I’m really interested to see how it goes.
Yep, you’re not alone!
I checked out your blog too and will add it to my blog roll and my iGoogle page. We can keep each other motivated.
I just realized I have no idea how I got to your blog … but I’m glad I did. 🙂
Oh, wow, doubts–yeah I’ve got plenty. I’m in two critique groups and really, the doubts don’t come from them. But then, like you said, they haven’t read the whole thing yet. Some days I feel so doubtful I want to quit it all. Then, the only thing that keeps me going is that I’ve spent almost a year on this already and I can’t face the idea I’ve wasted all that time. So I keep working. Thanks so much for writing about your doubts too.
And don’t you just love Anne Lamott?
Thanks, Linda. Yeah, those doubts happen to the best writers. So, don’t give up! Keep plowing through and push away those doubts. They come and go, but make the most of the days they’re gone and ignore them on the days they’re there.
And yes, Anne Lamott is great!