Goddamn writing doubts. Don’t listen to them.

I finished my latest novel. Edited it, which went a hell of a lot smoother than I anticipated, and then sent it to my agent. If you have ever submitted a manuscript to someone you know I am now on the roller coaster of emotions. It doesn’t matter that I have an agent and am not sending out query letters. This is a pride and joy of mine I am letting someone else read.

Right now I love what I sent to him. Think it’s an amazing first book in a two book series. In approximately one minute I will want to recall the email I sent him in order to put more stuff in. An hour after that, I will love everything about the story and think recalling the email to edit the MS more will result in no additions. I love roller coasters but not this one.

The thing about this story, LORDES is the tentative title, is that I actually stopped writing it with about 14,000 words left.

I talked myself out of it actually.

When I began writing LORDES, I of course thought it was the most original thing ever done. Wonderful. Amazing. No one has ever thought of doing this. I’m a genius. Some days I wrote 3000 words. Other days I wrote only 800. I wrote until I hit a point that I felt if I continued for the day I would just be vomiting words onto the page. It was a wonderful time.

Roughly halfway through at one of the major turning points in the story, my thoughts on the entire thing begin to change, but all within the range pretty much every author goes through. I’m thinking, yeah, okay, not as original as I thought but it’s still damn good. Fun to read. Best thing I have ever written, without a doubt. Maybe not the best thing ever written though, but the best in my stable.

The train of doubts arrive. I am three quarters of the way through, right about 47,000 words in, and I start to tell myself I’m ripping off Neal Asher. At that time I was reading one of the Polity books. Now his books rely heavily on AI. It’s the crux of the universe he’s created. Major characters are robotic AIs. The human government is run by AIs. One entire book of his, Brass Man, centers on an AI. I have AIs in my universe, but make only offhanded mentions of them. Only one AI in my story has a speaking part, and it’s only like 8 sentences long. I don’t even have aliens in the story, and yet here I am explaining to myself that I am ripping off Neal Asher because what I’m writing looks like a science fiction book. I’m sure if I was reading another author I would have inserted their name into my doubt-fueled excuses.

With 14,000 words to go I completely talk myself out of writing this story. A story I have absolutely loved up until a little past the halfway mark. I talk myself out of it by telling myself I am copying the Polity books. While the only things my story shares with Asher’s is that it has characters and it’s science fiction, but I’m really good at talking myself out of doing or finishing things. So, I put the book aside with no desire to ever finish it, and begin the start of another story I know I’ll never come anywhere close to completing. But why should I continue with LORDES? It’s just a hack work. It’s no good. I suck at writing original stories.

I would say pretty close to a month goes by, and I read the last 30 pages I wrote in LORDES. You know what happens? I FALL IN LOVE WITH THE STORY I WROTE. I’m talking head over fucking heels. It is positively wonderful.

I went back to LORDES. Strange, when I went through so much trouble to talk myself out of finishing it. Why did I finally go back to it, fall in love with it again and finish it? Personal reasons. Though not to get too personal, I finally told myself that, “I am a good fucking writer.”

Acknowledging that I am a good fucking writer, and it’s my hard work that has made me such a great writer helped me me realize what I knew all along but didn’t want to believe for insanity reasons:

I’m not copying another writer because I put spaceships and crazy technology in my story. It’s called science fiction. Spaceships are crazy tech are supposed to be in it.

I guess the moral of the story is this:

Write because you enjoy it. Your story is not all that original, but how you tell it is. Humans have been telling stories for tens of thousands of years (however long speech has been around). Every type of story has been told, but not in the way you can tell it. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. And when that demon comes up and whispers to you that your story is not good enough and you should put it aside; stab it, shoot it, set it on fire, put it through a wood chipper, and then finish your goddamn story.

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