I’m glad I had Stephen King’s “On Writing” as the moment of sending off this manuscript to my editor gets closer. It’s been there to coddle me though. The doubt really does start to get heavy, but the knowledge that an accomplished story-teller regularly questions the quality of his work relieving to the new writer trying to do the same.
If you’re in the same boat, I recommend picking it up.
I used to hear aspiring authors talk about this “soul-crushing doubt”. I thought I understood what they meant back when I started.
Then the novel got to the point where it might actually see the light of day and I the reality surfaced. I used to think that my doubt surrounding the completion of the first draft was the hurdle I needed to jump. Then came the revisions. That was disillusioning. I went from I was almost there to realizing that the first draft was roughly 20% of the job.
Now, the knowledge that my friends, family, and coworkers are soon to see this creation I put a year of my life into starts to surface.
What if they think the villains are some reflection of me?
“No Mom,” heavy sigh, “the villain’s abusive parent is not a symbolic cry for help.”
Worse, what if no one buys it? What if it’s a failure for all to see?
However, these are not the sincere worries. Sure they cross your mind but they don’t get the traction of questions like: What about the strangers who read it? What if they don’t get it? Or worse, what if everyone gets it because it’s so predictable it borders on absurd? What if I come off pretentious or opinionated through my characters? I spent so much time making sure I addressed every little plot hole, what if I focused on the small problems and I missed something glaring?
I’m writing a trilogy, what if the questions I left unanswered for the next two books are the ones better answer in the first? I tried not to over-do the intimate moments, what if those might have been more important to the future readers?
…I mean, I still remember being a teenager. Not like I couldn’t paint some pictures if it will keep a reader on board for the rest of the story.
My editor told me he was excited to see my manuscript when I sent him the story arch summary. What if when he sees the manuscript itself he doesn’t want to be associated to the project?
These are the questions of soul crushing doubt.