One never knows. A creative project is an emotional roller coaster filled with self-doubt, self-assurance, and second-, triple-, and quadruple-guessing.
Sounds like a Monday.
There are bleak days and dark ones. These are the times when you wonder if your book would better serve as a doorstop than entertainment. I know many writers feel similarly during the course of a project. It could be an external factor, like your day job, piling upon your feelings of self-worth. It could be a matter of life and love. It could be a change in weather. Or it could be that you’ve read that blasted manuscript so many times, the words might as well be in another language.
Unfortunately, those feelings can create powerlessness, creating doubts that are very difficult to overcome. It’s the reason that so many of us have abandoned drafts that we keep promising we’ll return to someday.
We’re often waiting for perfect conditions that never arrive.
When we’re honest with ourselves, truly honest, we recognize that those days are more exception than rule. There are also good days, which are more rule than exception. Even better, we have those moments when it doesn’t feel like work. When things are clicking. When you feel you might – just might – have tapped into something special. And it gives you the power to keep going.
So. I’m writing this for other writers to let them know that sometimes, the universe rewards you and reinforces that you need to keep going. Here are three examples of when this happened to me.
1. I’ve had four Trusted Readers say something like this: I started reading with the intent of being critical so I could give you good feedback. But I got carried away by the story. YES! To me, this is one of the highest compliments I could receive. Instead of the story feeling like a chore or being read as a favor, I’ve managed to produce an enjoyable tale. It tells me some of the unresolved minutiae is perhaps not the distraction I believed it to be.
2. I had a colleague mention that my book title kept running through his head (the conversation was the catalyst for this post). He wasn’t actively following my progress, but he’d seen my Facebook updates. Something about “The Starfall Omen” had intrigued him, which I explained was exactly why I liked the title. It’s not too bizarre to be confusing, but it creates a bit of mystery. When you’ve hooked someone who’s outside the circle of people you’re trying to attract, it suggests you’ve done the job correctly.
3. This example is my favorite. My wife is Trusted Reader #1. She’s a literature teacher and a voracious reader who devours more than 120 books a year. She knows what works and what doesn’t. With much trepidation, I’d given her a copy of the mid-draft. One evening, she came downstairs hugging the manuscript and asking for more. In no uncertain terms, I was commanded to go upstairs to start on the next book. And this, perhaps more than anything, is when I knew I was succeeding – not that I would find success as a writer, but that I had tapped into something special.
These are the kinds of things that keep you warm on those cold days of writer’s despair. They remind you that your writing has more power than you believe. They give you that extra push to keep going, even when you wonder whether you’re wasting your time.
Writing is never a waste of time, but sometimes we need to be reminded of that.
PS: You’ll need to share your writing to get there.
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© Michael Wallevand, July 2021