Some days it is difficult, if not impossible, to stay positive about the work one does. Try as one might, there are a multitude of things throughout one’s life that keep the daily struggle fresh.
Writers suffer from doubts–well, most do. There are probably a few who sit at the computer and crank out a few hundred words, then sit back and go, “Yeah, fantastic work, I’ve got a best sell a-brewin’.” For the rest of us who craft words into sentences, and then into stories, there have been more than a few moments where we look at a computer screen, or a piece of paper, and think, “Damn, this is total shit. Why am I doing this again?”
I get this a lot, and I’ve talked about it more than a few times. I’ve spoken with other writers I know, and they get into the same funks as well. I even had one person tell me the other night they were looking at a story and the thoughts they had were, “This is shit. I should give up.”
For the last month or so, during the lead up of the self-publication of Her Demonic Majesty, I was hit with all sorts of doubts. Am I doing this right? Am I doing that right? Should I even put this sucker out? There was a point where I was going to give up and just keep the story in the bin and submit it to a few more houses just to see if I’d get a nibble or two.
This morning, as I was laying in bed thinking about the bad dreams I’d had, I also wondered about my sense of doubt as a writer. I thought about my current story, Fantasies in Harmonie, and Her Demonic Majesty, and wondered why I bother to write. Then I got out of bed, my head fuzzy from the medication I took last night. It was while I was walking from the bedroom to the computer room that I understood something:
It’s okay to think you suck. Because that is the natural order of things for those who care.
There are all sorts of reasons why I get down on myself about my work. It’s a struggle to get noticed, and I want so much so fast these days. The struggle is getting old, as am I, and I want to move on. Hell, that’s my life these days: keep moving forward and build a new life for yourself, girl. Story of my life, let me tell you.
But without the struggle, there isn’t a need to grow. I’ve been there as well. I spent thirteen years with one company and fell into the trap of not wanting to move on and do other things because the place was comfortable, it was, as I thought then, secure. So I didn’t need to feel differently, I didn’t need to learn anything, I didn’t need to write.
In the end it was, as we say in the software biz, vaporware. A lot of things were promised, and nothing was delivered.
It’s okay to doubt, because if you know you’re good, you’re going to doubt your skills. You’re going to agonize over what you created. You’re going to find yourself thinking, “This isn’t worth my time, I could be making blue glass like Mr. Heisenberg”–only you won’t because Mr. Heisenberg is a fictional character, your chemistry skills suck, and in the end you’ll blow up that fancy Jasper Country double-wide you use as a crash pad and meth lab.
Then again, at least you know your customers, which is more than I can say . . .