In what now seems another lifetime, back when I first began to share my desire to be a novelist, a dear friend made a powerful observation. She lamented that writing must be extremely hard, citing not publishing perils or the financial challenge, as one might expect. Instead, she suggested writers had to possess supreme confidence, a pure faith that their stories were deserving of attention. At the time, the sentiment surprised me. Though I had many concerns, it had never occurred to me to question the worth of my writing. I simply had a story, at least the kernel of one, and wanted to see it through. What propelled me was a desire to convey the tale well and in a manner truthful to the inspiration behind it. That felt like enough at the time, and indeed it was.
Recently, however, my friend’s words have come back to haunt me. For I no longer carry within me the confidence to which she alluded. I didn’t grasp her meaning then because, at the time, I understood the world I was crafting. More precisely, I trusted my own world view. Secure in my knowledge, characters arcs and plot lines within the tale came into focus naturally because, ultimately, the fictional world on some level reflected my own. Sadly, this is no longer the case. These days I sit down at my desk with more questions than answers, vigilantly suspicious, like a man hovering over a puzzle while convinced a third of the pieces are missing, or from another set entirely.
Even this post reflects this turmoil. Normally a topic comes to mind, and accepting my own contribution as a given, I research what writers both past and present have to say on the matter. Then I open the doors to the WU community, eager to engage, encourage or even argue points of view. Given my current trepidation, I thought it best to take another tack, seeking input from the community at the start. The thoughtful, and in some cases heart-wrenching, responses opened my eyes to the fact we all face crises in our lives, which at times short-circuit our creative efforts. And while I must caution the insights do not provide clear answers, I hope they offer comfort and perhaps pointers for those facing doubts, even as you seek new stars to guide your way forward. [Read more…]