Sense of Doubt

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 . . .

Dreamer’s Kick

The weekends are just too short.  I spent most of the morning getting a blog post ready, then looking for things on the Internet, then registering domains . . . but I did manage to write the next part of a new story, and I’m down to three parts remaining in Dreamers at the Memory’s End.

Still have a drive ahead of me tonight, but I’ll worry about that when it happens.  I don’t need to go back to The Undisclosed Location, but have to.

I did take a break for a while.  The daughter and I watched Inception, which I admit is one of my favorite movies.  Yes, I know people dump on the flick for being dumb and being hard to follow, and having a weird plot–or, as some have pointed out, was ripped off from a Donald Duck comic–but I don’t care what the haters think.  I always have a ball watching the movie, and the second level dream insanity is something I can watch over and over, marveling at how it was filmed.  Yes, I do know about the set constructed for the scene.  Still . . . putting those pieces together is simply incredible.

If you’ve watched it, then you know about “kicks”.  When you are in a dream, and you need to wake up, you get a kick:  a jolt that’s going to snap you to, and get you back into reality–or does it?  (Duh-du-dunnn!)

I wondered:  do we, as writers, need this from time to time to remind ourselves that we’re working in a dream world?  Are we sure that what we are doing is ever going to pay off, and we need to somehow bring ourselves back to reality?

Every so often I get asked, “How are you sales going?”  The truth:  not very good.  After a year I haven’t sold much of anything.  I’ve made maybe $20 total in one year.

Yet, I’m still writing.  Between the blog and my stories, I’ve written quite a bit.  I know that, with my last three stories, I’ve done about one hundred and fifty thousand words.

None of which has been sold.  Well, maybe one.  But the other is waiting to be edited, and the third is a work in progress.  Lets not even talk about the NaNo Novel . . .

There are a few people who might have given up at this point.  After a year, writing a few novels that don’t seem to do anything but collect electronic dust, would have some people looking for something else to do.

This summer has been a difficult one for me, for a number of reasons.  Getting my first rejection in the middle of a personal crises didn’t help, either.  In fact, I came very close to saying, “The hell with this, I ain’t getting anywhere.”

Then I remember what someone very close to me once said:  “You are a writer; you’ve been one for twenty years.  You don’t need anyone to tell you that.”

That’s the sort of kick we need.  It’s not that we’re living in a dream world of unfathomable expectations, where we all think we’re going to be the Next Big Thing, and make a gazillion bucks.  We just want to be reminded that we have people who like our work, and who follow us because they enjoy what we have to say–

Who like us because we entertain.

I’d prefer to think this place of struggle, this area where I toil away at my stories, and go to work at a place I despise, is my dream.  When the stories are bought, when they start earning me enough that I can write all the time, and I’m able to bring more stories to the public–that’s the kick.  That’s what’s going to wake me up, and put me where I want to be . . .

Welcome to the Real World.