Losing Faith in Your Writing, Part 2 (A Love Letter)

Dear Writer,

This week, I was happily working on my next novel—ten chapters in—when I got a cheery email from my agent. “Notes coming tomorrow!” That would be notes on my previous novel, which I’ve rewritten twice, working with her.

Ruh-roh.

Because if she was sending “notes,” that meant there was more rewriting to do. The email I really wanted to get would be the one that said we were ready to start sending it out. And then the notes from her and her team arrived, recommending rewrites more extensive than I had imagined.

And I have to confess—it threw me. I read and re-read the email, but no matter how I spun it, there was more work to do. And it felt like being rejected all over again. Like my book wasn’t good enough. Like I wasn’t good enough.

It was all I could think about for a little bit. Rejection is like that—it overwhelms you so that all you can do is obsess about it. I had a hard time moving forward for half a day or so. Couldn’t quite process what I needed to do for the rewrite, couldn’t get back into the flow of the new novel. Spent time feeling sorry for myself. (In the middle of a month-long writing retreat in the south of France, I might add—how ridiculous is that?)

Until the obsessive fog cleared and I started thinking more clearly. And then I realized something. A couple of somethings, actually. First, my agent is determinedly helping me make this book deeper and richer. When first I wrote it, I thought of it as a simple romance. And now it is moving into women’s fiction territory.

And second, I have a top-flight agent willing to take this time and energy and care with me and I’m complaining? She wants to help me make this book as good as it possibly can be.  She has, in a nutshell, faith in me. So shouldn’t I have some faith in myself as well?

Yes, yes I should.

Last week on the blog, I wrote about a friend who spun in many different directions, never landing on one, because she lacked faith in herself. This week the spinner was me. The one who counsels other writers never to lose faith, to keep going, to get to the page regularly.

I should know better, right? Well, yes. But I share my story to emphasize that it happens to all of us, all the time. And the only trick is to let it wash through you and then carry on. Take a day or a week to spin, instead of a lifetime.

And then get thee back to the page.

Inspiration Friday: The Blogosphere (With Bonus: What I’d Change)

A week or so ago, awesome blogger and novelist Christi Corbett gave me an award:

Cherryontopaward
Thanks, Christi!

The idea of the award is twofold:

1.  You are supposed to pass it on to several other bloggers, and,

2.  You are supposed to write an answer to the question, if you could go back and change one thing in your life, what would it be?

I have an answer to that question, oh do I have an answer.  But before that, I want to deal with the first part of the award.  Although the idea is to choose your favorite bloggers to give the award to and thus pass the love along, I can't.  I've been thinking about this ever since I heard about the award, mulling things over in my mind and I just can't.

Why? Because there is such an abundance of them.  There are many, many wonderful blogs that I read and comment on.  And I love that.  I love that the internet has made writing a far more important task and skill that it was, say, ten years ago.  Now, if you are in business or have a need to promote yourself, you must have a blog, or find someone to write one for you.  Writing, and expressing oneself, is a must.  Even if you don't write a blog, odds are good you're regularly posting your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.  All this blogging and Social Media-ing adds up to a lot of words being written every day.

And I think it's inspiring.  I think it is inspiring that the internet gives us all an opportunity to be creators of content, and that so many people have bravely taken the leap to express their thoughts on life online.  Yes, some of it is crap, but then, that is true of the traditional media and publishing industries as well.  And so my award goes to the blogosphere in general and all the millions (billions?) of bloggers who madly write away in it on a regular basis.

And now, the answer to the question: if I could change one thing in life, what would it be?

I would have more confidence in myself and my work.

There's a balance between ego and humility.  I once heard a wise author say that it's not egotistical to love your work and want the best for it and thus be willing to promote it in the world.  Too many of us writers, myself included, shy away from putting our work out (another reason why blogs are so great), perhaps because we think its egotistical, but more likely because we're not sure its good enough.

Of course, you have to work at it for quite some time to be good enough.  But that's not generally the problem I see or the problem I've had.  Instead, I see myself and others being hesitant to send our novels to agents because, well, who knows why.  I see myself and others not committing to the steps that would take our work from unknown to known. Why?  I think it all boils down to a lack of confidence.  This manifests in other ways, too, like not taking time to write when we have it, deciding to watch TV instead.  Sometimes we need a break, and sometimes it is just laziness, but often it is because we don't have confidence in our work.

So that's what I'd change.  I'd make it so I had mad confidence in my skills from the very beginning, so that, in a humble way, I was willing to put myself out there at every chance I got.  Hmmmm, come to think of it, there's no reason I can't start doing that now, is there?

How about you?  What would you change?