Second Guessing


So, I’ve been in the slumps today.  I just can’t seem to get my characters to do what I want them to do.  They keep wanting to go off in a different direction – a direction a publisher told me not to go.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the right thing.

It all started in July after I submitted my manuscript to a publisher and they returned it with loads of comments and a ‘please feel free to resubmit’ if I chose to make the recommended changes.  I took a long time to go over what the editor had written, thinking of ways I could change the manuscript to meet their suggestions (well, most of them).  While I loved my manuscript the way it was, I completely understood what they wanted me to do and why.

For two months I played with ideas, bounced some of the revisions off of a couple of beta readers and seemed to be progressing well.   Until I hit Chapter 12.  It was the most difficult chapter to re-write because I was trying to keep my voice, that thing that made the manuscript mine while meeting the publisher’s suggestions. They weren’t marrying very well.  For two weeks I pounded my head against the desk and found myself in tears, wondering if I’d done the right thing.  I began to second guess myself.  Then, as it always does, I got an epiphany in the middle of the night and had to get up and write it down.  Chapter 12 flowed, the pieces began to fit.  I was a writing genius…

Until I started reading the book out loud to my 16 year old son (not because he can’t read it on his own, but because I can hear the problems when I read the MS out loud).  He also gives me really great advice and he’s not afraid to tell me when something sucks.

Last night as I was reading, the self-doubt crept back in.  Stuff didn’t flow the way I wanted it to.  POV switches don’t flow seamlessly into one another.  Today I stared at the novel, made about 10 changes and broke down in tears.  What makes me think I’m a writer?  What makes me think I’m any good at this?  What drives me to continue in this self torture?

The answer?  Plain and simple, I don’t know.  What I do know is that it’s inside me.  This story needs to be told.  My betas tell me the writing is really, really good.  If this is so, why do I doubt?

I had an author tell me once that authors who think their novels are perfect and need no revisions, are usually bad authors and the ones who keep doubting, who keep questioning, are usually the ones with the better manuscripts.  I hope he’s right because I’ve got enough doubt to have a best-seller 20 times over.

But I also have perseverance and determination and I AM going to finish this manuscript, I am going to resubmit and I AM going to be published.  That much my heart is sure of.  Now, I just need to convince my head.

What about you?  Do you ever fill up with self doubt?  Do you ever want to just toss your manuscript in the trash?  How do you overcome it?

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5 thoughts on “Second Guessing

  1. Ugh. I just wrote something and was going to submit to a magazine, and then my “subject expert” told me I’ve written better. I really liked it. Doubt? Yeah, of course. We all wonder if we are too close to something, but if we believe in it, we can go forward.

    Remember miss two time Midlife Collage winner… your writing is great. Set it down for a day and work on something else. It will pop back to you.

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  2. Do I have self doubt? Only with every darn story I write.
    There’s those tense moments where I’m too jiggy to concentrate right after I’ve sent it off to my first beta. Then there’s those nail biting days whilst I’m waiting to hear what revisions my editor wants me to make. And then, there are those days of utter panic just as it goes out to the world and I’m waiting for someone I’ve never met or spoken to before to tell me my story sucks (yes, it has happened on occasion just as it has with huge named authors).
    There has to be the right blend of arrogance to go with our self-doubt though, because we have to be arrogant enough to believe we’ve created something great enough for others to want to read before we can possibly have the b***s to contemplate tossing it out there.
    Keep going, Jen. You’ll be fine. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Julie. I know this is just a phase I’m going through…again. It seems like every major revision I do makes me question my ability, but I’m determined to be the US’ answer to J.K. Rowling (Hey, it’s my dream), so off I go to the editing desk again. Thanks for the encouraging words. 🙂

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  3. You are doing fine. I have not been posting or commenting because I feel like I have no direction in my novel. It ended up being just words with no real drive and I have been trying to decide how to fix 30k words without deleting everything.
    In the end, I am going to keep writing because it is what I do. It makes me happy and if I want to be a success I need to keep trying. You and I have supportive people in our lives, we just need to get past the plot hurdles.

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    1. thanks for commenting back. I was getting worried about you. 😉 No posts in almost 2 weeks. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I think all writers feel these ‘blues’ now and then. At least I’d like to think I’m not the only one. Keep hanging in there and keep writing. Anything.

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