A question we have all asked ourselves at one time or another. Some may ask it still. I know I’ve asked it of myself more times than I can count. I have asked it in all parts of my life, but the biggest has always been… Am I good enough to be a writer?
It’s easy to say “yes I am”, but it’s harder to actually believe it. Like deep down believe it. In your gut believe it. That’s a whole lot harder to do, because saying it isn’t the same thing as believing it. Trust me, I know. You probably know it too.
But wait! It counts if someone else says it, right?
You are good enough!
You are great!
You are amazing!
You are rocking it, so keep on going!
Once upon a time, I lived for these type of statements from my friends or other people I knew. I needed to hear these things and hear them often to feel I was worth anything. Yes, I had some serious self-esteem issues. The worst of all was whether or not I was a decent writer. That particular idea plagued me in terrible ways not so long ago.
“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” — Natalie Goldberg
Being a writer is a complicated thing. We love to write for the sake of writing, but we also don’t want to write because some days it is just so hard. But still we write, because not writing is not an option.
So what do we write about? People have different views on this. Some like light and happy stories. Some like dark and depressing stories. Some like gore and horror. Some like aliens and cool technology. Some like hot romance where the girl and guy always have their happy ever after. Some like the never ending thrill. And some like deep and moving characters no matter what the story is about.
But we all wonder… what really makes a good story? What draws the reader to each page to hungrily reach the end? What makes writing such an intense and rewarding process for the writer?
Ever look back and read work you’ve done in the past to realize it sucks so bad you almost feel physically ill?
Yep, that happened to me in a big way Sunday. The previous week my son started school on Wednesday, so I started working on my new novel with gusto (I’d been waiting all summer to start!), but realized I had some background information and research that needed to be done first. Then I got the bright idea to read the half completed first draft of my second novel (Dark Territories) over the weekend. God, what a horrible, awful, terrible disappointment that turned out to be.
I couldn’t even get all the way through two chapters before I decided I’d had enough, because I was real close to vomiting. Yeah, it was that bad. And I can’t even pinpoint one specific thing that was terrible. There was a well balanced amount of terribleness from stiff and completely out of character dialogue to plot leaps that would make a mountain goat proud. There were tie-ins from one story arc to another that left me wondering exactly how much I had to drink that day. And please don’t even get me started on my long windedness. I could probably make a schooner set sail with all that blustering air moving about in each scene.
Have you ever felt that your talent is lacking or that all efforts you’ve made with writing have been wasted? Have you ever teetered on the edge of despair and felt like the chasm of defeat is just waiting to shallow you whole? I confess this is the most devastating part of being a writer and at times feel like it will be the end of all my creative genius. But instead of looking at these times as a curse it may help to view them as a catalyst for pure creativity. A beginning to something new. Destitution bears the fruit restitution. Consider this… that every down has an up and every up has a down and so on. It is an endless cycle that repeats over and over. It’s a cycle of creativity, productivity, success, and uncertainty that dives headlong into a total distrust of your abilities.
If you’ve reached bottom and are sure that you are a complete failure, have faith, because your circle is about ready to come round again. It’s our darkest hours that show us the measure of ourselves and give us the resolve to be better. It’s those times that makes the ups so damn good and gives us the creativity to do great things. Have faith that you are special and that you can be what you dream, because it’s that belief that will take you where you want to go.
Every trip around that circle only solidifies your purpose and makes it stronger. Yes, mistakes will be repeated and things will have to be relearned, but it’s that eventual accumulated knowledge which molds us into a bedrock for the future. So keep your chin up and welcome the never ending circle, because every passage along the circuit will bring you closer to being the best you can be.