I am in the process of having a crisis of faith…a crisis of writing faith. The fear factor of writing a novel is not new, there are days when I am elated and others when I’m exhausted and hate every word my fingers transcribe into this poor keyboard that I hammer for hours and hours a day (just ask the “a” key, she hardly works well any more).
The crisis came when my husband, who is usually very supportive, wasn’t. It happened when I asked him about attending the Your Best Book workshop (YBB). I went to him because I was torn about attending. You see, the workshop is pricey and I previously paid to work with Lorin Oberweger in June, I’m friends with Carrie Ryan who last spring ever so generously read What Death has Touched and showed me how to manipulate what was on the page so it would be at a higher level, out of the generous goodness of her heart because in me she saw a person acting as a professional at my craft and treated me as such. Tracey Adams, the super ninja agent of the famed Adams Literary has read my work and passed, but also encouraged me to attend the workshop. By attending the workshop I will neglect my family from October 14-20th. I will dive into my craft and my story and make it the best fucking thing I can and be so much better off than I was figuring my way through my first novel. I won’t be able to meet the bus and walk my daughter home, I have to figure out how to manage a sitter on the Saturday because my husband has previous plans, I won’t be packing lunches, making dinners or any of the million other things I do as a wife and mother and writer when I am at home and a part of me feels bad about it.
My work with Lorin in June was life altering. She helped me work out an outline for and craft the title of Dear Dead Drunk Girl. She listened to my ideas and story points, challenged me to go deeper and praised me to encourage me to go for it. She’s read some of my chapters and said, “Keep going!” She has been my champion and with that I nearly completed my first draft over the summer. I set a goal of writing 837 words per day, most days I exceeded that number and a few days I did not. My draft is as long as my first novel and I plan on cranking out approximately one hundred more pages before the workshop begins…
But I digress…sorry… so I tell my hubby that I’m torn because of the time commitment and my absence and the cost and it feels odd to pay people who are my friends, and should I do it? Will it help me accomplish my goal of writing better? Landing an agent when the book is complete and realizing my dream of seeing Dear Dead Drunk Girl on bookshelves.
Then my hubby asked, “How long are you going to give it? How long is your career going to cost us money instead of make some?” and a few other choice words and sentences that felt like he slapped me across the room and broke my jaw.
With those words he cleaved my heart, my soul, and scorched my unyielding hope and belief in myself and my writing ability leaving room for doubt that began festering in the wound left from his words. My doubt is a horrible looking dark gray monster that is rather oblong with a gargoyles body, jagged claws he grips my head and shoulders with and a pointed serrated tail that is stabbed into my heart. The sharp edges of the tail are poisonous and are blackening my heart.
Doubt makes me weak. It leaves me crying and unable to write. It makes me wonder why I dream so big and want so much to improve.
Now, I am no shrinking violet and I managed to face my hubby and tell him how much he hurt me. Then I avoided him for hours and cried some more. He apologized, you don’t need to know the details of our conversation, it wasn’t heated, it was loving, he’s been trying to reassure me that I am talented, and his fear comes from a place of protection. One of the places he was coming from was- saying that my talent didn’t matter when there are so many people standing in the way of my goal- interns, agents, editors, publishers and a public. And he is one hundred percent right, there’s the rub. He’s not wrong.
I have to tell you there is nothing else I want to do in my life professionally more than write. I was a television producer, I’ve worked in advertising, I’ve even had crap temp jobs, nothing is more life fulfilling than the path I am on now…but…his words had power. They knocked the air out of me and I am slowly recuperating. I want to completely forgive, but to be honest I’m still too hurt to do it. I’m not focused on being mad, I’m focusing on removing the painful doubt demon. Because I believe if you work hard there is not a goal that can’t be reached.
Ironically, the next day I received a tweet from a 100% stranger saying, “she really enjoyed my story…for real!” My first fan letter. I took it as a sign. I’m seeing many things point me back on the path of full-time professional writer. I will not let doubt win, or time erode my will.
I am convinced every artist has faced a similar dilemma: Choose to quit or choose to see it through. I’m choosing door number eleven (11 is my lucky number) and that door is full of living and some days the living ain’t easy. So be it. Hope to see you at YBB too.