You want honesty? I'll give you some honesty. I'm tired of pretending that I know what I'm doing with all of this shit.
I don't read enough fiction. There, I said it. With the flood of stories my friends write, the books recommended to me or given to me, articles on the internet and magazines I get, I can barely manage ten hours a week spent reading fiction. The list grows, longer and faster than I can possible keep up with. I've given up a lot to get more time to read and write, and it's still not enough. It would be great if I could spend all my time on this, but I can't.
The "holy crap, this novel SUCKS!!!" phase of my WIP is not a one-and-done, not something that I went through and got over. Friends talked me in from the ledge when I was whining about this during NaNoWriMo, and have periodically offered again to kick me in the ass again if I ever felt like quitting. This feeling does not arise from a sense that this is too HARD to do, that I'm shying away from the sweat and effort of it. It's a recurrent fear that I'm wasting my time on a book that no one will read or get, a book that no one will think is at all engaging or funny. It doesn't help that several of the people I've told about this WIP have responded with a confused headshake. Yes, I KNOW it's not like anything you're familiar with - that's the whole point! It's different! If I wanted to knock out a trope ridden "farmboy finds a magic book, learns to be a magician" thing, I would. I've got 15,000 words of that novel sitting in a drawer, OK?
Yeah, it would be great if I were to return to "Just Enough Power" and write out the rest of the plot. It's all there - Patricia Lonnigan gets beaten up, gets to have lots of slippery, angry sex, she gets to kill lots of people, and she gets revenge on all the people who wronged her, but she has to pay a heavy price for it. You know what? I'm deliberately NOT writing that so I can FINISH MY DAMNED WIP. You think I don't feel the lure of every other half-finished fucking story I have sitting on my hard drive? You think I don't hear those voices that say, "oooh, that one is MUCH better than this one."? I do, believe me. But I've committed myself to this WIP. The Grammarian comes FIRST, Patricia Lonnigan comes NEXT. It has to be that way, or I'll go crazy flitting around from flower to flower.
It's really hard to sustain enthusiasm for a WIP when these doubts and fears set in. Hard, that is, until I actually take a deep breath and open my work again. After re-reading three pages, I KNOW this is a good book, or could be. I can make this thing shine, make it the kind of book I want it to be. I just wish I could be sure that the readers will see the same kind of thing in it that I do. Yes, yes, it's a non-random event - it's not up to the reader to make the book great. They'll see whatever I put in there, and it's up to me to MAKE it happen. It takes an effort of faith, in the story, in the system, and above all, faith in my own abilities as a writer.
I'm not a very trusting person. That has consequences for me as a person, and as a writer. The thing is, though, there's a difference between confidence and faith. Confidence is based on data, and deals with the known. The tables say that a 10"x10" pillar of No.1 grade oak will support 6500 pounds. If I load it with 5000 pounds, I can be confident of its performance. It's when I load it with 6800, or 7000 or 8000 pounds that I need to have faith in its performance.
I'm confident I can write good flash fiction. I need to have faith that I can write a good novel.
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