Good heavens, but it’s easy to doubt your own ability, isn’t it?
Most of the time I totter along, trying to write according to my daily schedule, to meet my goals and improve my skills. But then I’ll read something that I really enjoy, and it’s like “Damn! I could never write like that. Why do I even bother to try?”
Yup. Doubt has reared its ugly head once more.
Although so far I’ve always managed to get back into the race, it always takes some time spinning my wheels before I get back on track (and that’s quite enough of that cliched analogy, thank you very much).
I usually overcome self-doubt by remembering that there are many, many published writers in the world, and they can’t all be more talented, more determined, and more hardworking than me. Then I think about an author that I once heard speak. She brought a suitcase full of her rejection letters and told how one publisher told her to never, ever submit to them again — that they wouldn’t even consider anything she’d written.
Wow, that’s harsh.
And yet, she’s now a highly successful writer with many books to her credit.
More power to her, right?
In some ways, working as a librarian makes it easier for me to stamp down the doubts. Every day I hear people say how much they loved a certain book. And two days later, someone else will tell me how much they hated it. That’s how people are.
Well, guess what. Editors and agents are people. Some of them will like my writing (and yours). Others won’t. And that’s okay. I look on it as preparing me for readers and reviewers who may not — gasp! — love my books (once I finally find an editor and agent who do).
Until then, I’ll just keep working because I know that writing is an art, but it’s also a craft. And though this may at first seem discouraging, it’s actually quite the opposite. Skills (craft) can be improved with practice.
That means there’s hope for all of us.
Addendum:To illustrate my point about agents and editors being people with individual tastes, I offer the following. In one contest, I received a critique from from a well-respected agent who clearly didn’t care for my style. He called my writing “just okay.” Compare that to the editor of a major publishing house who, although she rejected the book I’d submitted, said, “… you are a fine writer and I enjoyed reading this.” Everyone has different tastes, including the people who will be making decisions about our work. That’s just the way things are. If we want to be professional writers, we can’t afford to make it personal.