“Live like you were dying,” “run like the devil is on your heels,” and “Party like it’s 1999.” Well. Maybe that last phrase isn’t as applicable for what I mean, but sort of.
I have recently come to a conclusion. As I’ve said before, I follow certain blogs, read as much as I can about writing, (FOREST FOR THE TREES by Betsy Lerner, Stephen King’s ON WRITING and most recently, LARRY BROWN, A WRITER’S LIFE). In addition, there are other resources I turn to, magazines, the local newspaper, which features a huge section on authors every Sunday, and anywhere else I happen to run across something about writing, I read it. (Donald Maass has tons of books out that are written with insider type of knowledge an agent would have, like THE FIRE IN FICTION and WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL)
Here’s what I’ve noticed, and trust me, this is more than likely purely idiosyncratic to me and my own observations. Once a writer has been published, confidence soars. Your words are loved (already!) by not only your agent, but the editor, the marketing team, the sales team, the publisher and anyone who has been following your journey.
I’ve often thought about how it would make me feel to have completed that rigorous vetting process. I would feel like my writing had been viewed by all of these experts who have said “yes,” this is good enough to allow an advance, this is good enough that we want to spend more money to back her/him and publish their book.
I mean, honestly.
Wouldn’t that make you suddenly feel extraordinarily special, like you’d somehow solved the problem only the smartest of the smart knew? You might go back and look at what you wrote, treasure how you came up with THAT sentence, smile when you reminisce about how you figured out a certain character’s dilemma, feel a sense of satisfaction that you were able to create a surprise or stunning ending everyone else appreciates.
It’s as if when that happens, all of the sudden, people want to know, “how did you do it?” And, “what was your process?” “Did you do a lot of research?” “How did you create your characters? Etc. Etc. You are now considered an expert, and you can’t believe how you feel about the writing that you used to think SUCKED.
My point with all of this? Don’t let the fact that you haven’t been published affect your writing. Try not to be too critical of where your story is headed (or not), or worry about how the rejections are coming and it’s because you’re the worst writer who ever existed. Believe me, I’m there with you on all this and how it isn’t the best feeling. I think my writing sucks every single day, but what I’ve also noticed is when I don’t think like that, I actually write better. (insert thoughts of being delusional here)
Seriously, I believe if you write with confidence, write with the belief you can craft a story that is interesting, this, will serve you better than if you shrink within your self and hate what you’ve created. Just try… try and write like you’re published, see if it doesn’t help.
P.S. A little humility isn’t a bad thing, just don’t let it work against you.