I’m in an odd position. I’ve just sold a book, finally achieved the acclamation for my work I’ve longed for, and yet I feel more self-doubt than ever before. Despite visible success—a signed contract—I’m not convinced I know what I’m doing.
I open Word tentatively, bucking up my courage to address my previously written files. Fighting an urge to delete every word I wrote the day before, I bite my lip and carry on (I’ve learned a few coping strategies from the Brits!). Words become sentences, sentences become scenes.
And then I read it again, and it’s all dreck. Awful lumps of rubbish prose. (Once again, a Britishism fills the void!) The whole premise suddenly seems stupid. What was I thinking, imagining I could carry this off?
Where did I put my self-esteem? It must be hiding on the shelf, somewhere behind my talent. When I was seven, I was drowning in talent. I know this because my second-grade teacher said so, as she presented the memeographed copy of my stories to my parents. I had no doubt then that I’d one day be an author of some renown. (And yes, I used phrases like this when I was seven. I also quoted Shakespeare when I was eleven. Is it any wonder I had no friends other than Trixie Belden?)
So what’s changed? Why am I so convinced I can’t write a scene anyone would want to read now, when I’ve actually sold a whole book’s worth of scenes? Why do I now question each plot twist, each snatch of dialogue I write? I’m deathly afraid I will never be able to duplicate whatever snatch of brilliance it was that convinced an editor to buy my book. Heck, I’m no longer even sure I can spell, or agree my subjects with my verbs.
Maybe the key is to sell a second book. Or a third. Or better yet, to finish another book that convinces me—my harshest critic—that it’s brilliant.
That alone is motivation to write every day, to finish the scene, to get to the end. I just want this feeling of self-doubt to end. And the quickest way, I suspect, is to write The End.