Here’s a dialogue I hear a lot in my head:
Brain: Wow, this book I’ve written is not good. It’s actually quite bad. No one is going to want to read this. It’s not publishable.
Optimistic Side: Every writer goes through this. Every writer has self-doubt. Don’t let it get you down!
Brain: I’m sure terrible writers tell themselves the same thing. Doesn’t make them any less terrible.
Optimistic Side: You’ve been doing this a long time. You know more about this than you think you do.
Brain: But that one guy hated it. Couldn’t even get four chapters in.
Optimistic Side: Maybe it wasn’t what he expected it to be/maybe he wanted it to be something else. Maybe he had no clue what he was talking about. You can’t please everyone.
Brain: It was the most critiqued entry in that Live Action Slush Contest I went to. Those people know what they’re talking about.
Optimistic Side: True, but that’s still just their opinion. And even you weren’t sure about that entry. You’ve made it a lot better since then.
Brain: I still keep getting rejected from magazines.
Optimistic Side: ALL writers get rejected. Has that really been your best work either? You’ve only submitted to 15 or so places, and you made the short list on one of them. Two others complimented your writing personally.
Brain: They probably do that with everybody. They’re just being nice.
Optimistic Side: They don’t have to be nice.
Brain: Even half my betas didn’t read it and I thought I could count on them.
Optimistic Side: People get busy. There could be a million different reasons why they didn’t read it that have nothing to do with the book itself.
Brain: Yeah, but if I wrote a real knockout, they wouldn’t need excuses. People make time for good stories.
Optimistic Side: It’s still a draft. And less complete stories get picked up by agents every day.
Brain: Most agents only take one new client a year out of 3-4k submissions. I am not that good.
Optimistic Side: It’s not just about being good. It’s about being the right fit. Remember how much Greg likes your story?
Optimistic Side: Well maybe you’ll find an agent just like Greg, who has the same interests. Maybe this agent is dying to see a pan-pantheon fantasy with diverse characters and he doesn’t even care about the flaws. He’s willing to work with you because he likes the potential.
Brain: That’s unlikely; my stuff isn’t that marketable. I can’t even think of anything to compare it to.
Optimistic Side: Sometimes uniqueness is a good thing. They’ll pick that over something formulaic.
Brain: The shelves at Barnes and Noble say otherwise.
Optimistic Side: Okay, so some agents like a safe sale. But you wouldn’t want to work with them anyway.
Brain: There are so many better writers than me.
Optimistic Side: There are still better writers than Stephen King. Doesn’t make him any less of Stephen King. You’ll never be the best, but you can be the best for some people.
I’m still not sure if I lean more with my brain or with my optimism. It’s hard to even listen to the optimism at all when everywhere I look, there are people telling me I’m not good enough, or that there’s something inherently wrong with the way I write. Hearing critique about my book is easy – that stuff can be fixed. Hearing critique about my intrinsic writing philosophies, about the style I am in my soul…that’s a lot harder.
Sometimes I wish I was just normal, and wrote generic deep POV paranormal romances or something. Or thrillers. Something that’s an easy sell. Something that doesn’t make this journey so much harder on myself. Being me makes things harder on myself.
But I can’t get too down just yet. It’s not like I’ve even queried this book yet. It’s not like I have any metrics to go on. I haven’t failed yet. I haven’t even begun. So maybe life will surprise me. And maybe the optimistic side will be proven right, and that I’m simply going through What All Writers Go Through.