Dear Saint Jude (confessions of a writer)
I’m not a “big-name” writer by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. I’m a tiny fish in a very large pond, but of late I am discovering that even small fish have sensitive psyches.
Sometimes, when I am struggling with a book, I wonder whether other mid-list writers are sweating as I am. Are they questioning their ability to write their book the way they envision it? Running out of synonyms for “said” and “walked”? Waking up at 3 a.m. with the deflating realization that the love scene will never work? Wondering they have lost their “touch” or their “voice?”
Or (gulp) their next contract?
I agonize over whether my editor will like my last scene. My hero. My character arc. But then I have to ask, “Why am I doing this?” Am I writing this story for my editor, or for me? Is it my creative vision that’s important here, or the marketing department’s estimate of potential sales? Should I change to a more currently sellable genre such as paranormal? Urban fantasy? Young adult thriller?
I have days when I wonder if I really do have some talent for writing or just a workaholic daily routine. I wonder if my brain is slowing down as my body is? Then I wonder (philosophically [physiologically?]) if it’s really one’s brain that comes up with a great idea for a book or some ineffable force called The Muse.
I wonder if my Muse ever gets fed up and flies off to a greener pasture. Does my pasture need a shot of fertilizer, or am I just having a blue period which will pass when it stops raining?
Some days I think I’m doing okay. I write consistently; I research diligently; I plan my turning-point scenes, character growth, and emotional through-lines intelligently.
Other days I’m not so sure. I get a 4-page single-spaced revision letter from my editor; I get kindly nudges from my agent. I believe the editor just wants a good, marketable book rather than my ego on a platter. I believe my agent is on my side.
And I try to be on my side. But you know what? There’s a bunch of stuff I don’t know, like whether high sales numbers mean that I’ve written a “good” book. And what is a “good” book in the popular fiction category, anyway?
Maybe this is “artist angst.” Maybe it’s hormonal droop or Prozac poopout. But I wonder if I’m the only writer who sometimes feels uncertain and un-selfconfident and a bunch of other “un” things?
I hope I am preaching to the choir here; otherwise it’s just a struggling writer’s whine.
And, Saint Jude, thanks for listening.