Famous (read as highly paid) writers may have transcended those moments of self-doubt that torment the rest of us. Maybe George R.R. Martin, Nora Roberts, Michael Connelly or Brandon Sanderson wake up every day with the foreknowledge that every word they type is golden. That people are eagerly waiting to pay to read those words like they were painted in gold. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge them a penny of their money; they’ve earned it.
But for the rest of us confidence in our work is a daily struggle. And for those with a regular job and the obligations of a family it can finally wear you down.
All of us live with friends and family who don’t understand the process of writing. When we’re typing that’s an action most can interpret, but when we’re staring out into space, or mumbling to ourselves, or doing any number of others things to try and force our brain into connecting plot threads or remembering words, that’s when people think we’re not working or we’re wasting time. The truth is that’s as much a part of the writing process as typing. And the whole time we’re doing whatever rituals we do to try and create magic on the page, we’re asking ourselves why we’re doing it because nobody cares. We’re telling ourselves it’s all just a big waste of time.
A young lady I greatly admire is struggling today with whether or not to continue writing. I don’t know her, we’ve never met and I’ve never spoken to her. And yet just last night I told my writer’s group about her. She’s a 23 year old mom who lives in Texas and works at Wal-Mart. But she also has multiple novels out and the newest one topped out on Amazon around #8000. In case you don’t know, that’s damned good. Most writers never sniff such a high rating.
Today she wants to quit. She’s wondering what the point is to it all. Writing can suck the life out of you, especially if you’re self-pubbed or with a small press. No doubt she has missed some events with her son because of writing. Her family is probably asking why they don’t see her more, or why she can’t help with this or that. And it’s not their fault. They’re not writers, they don’t know. But other writers do. We know what that’s like. If we don’t hear it now, today, we’ve certainly heard it in the past.
Yet to succeed we have to keep at it no matter what. I wish I had. I wish that I hadn’t listened to the voice in my head telling me to give up 25 years ago. I can’t make up that time and I wish that I could. If I could strangle that voice with my bare hands I would. Instead, all I can do now is try and be as productive as possible in whatever time I have left.
So don’t follow in my mistakes. Don’t do what I did. Keep writing. Are you listening Kayla?