Friday, July 9, 2010

About Doubt

I doubt myself. As a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a believer. But mostly, as a writer.

Sometimes the words fail me. Their chemistry, their composition, their themes, they elude me. And I think, how am I supposed to be a writer this way? How am I to write a novel? How do I make it deep and shimmering and worthy and good, with all the quality fiction is supposed to have?

It's a tough place to be, because here I have this dream, and this story to tell (a book to write), and an effort I wish into existence.

Yesterday I was reading Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel. I don't know if I can articulate what I read--it was a breakdown of one author's plot, for just one of her titles, in how she made it work. And what I needed to be doing--no, what I was doing wrong--just sort of lighted on me. I knew what I wasn't doing, but more, what I needed to be doing.

And then I took a close look at my work-in-progress. At where it sits now, starting at the very beginning. Because you know, you can't see what you have unless you start at the very beginning. Then I took it from there, and started to implement this new what-I-should-be-doing thing.

It sounds so simple. It's not, not in the long run, but for that moment, it was as simple as simple could be.

I saw my WIP as it could be, that maybe it will work.

And it made me think, I can do this. I can be a writer. I am a writer. Look at me go.

It feels like anything--even publication--is possible.


**I'll leave our progressive story "live" through the weekend. I'll reassess next week, and we'll wrap it up then. See two previous posts for more details.

32 comments:

Diane said...

Hoping that it will come together for you. I see you as that butterfly that is breaking forth from the cocoon. Yeah, it's time!!! :O)

Capri K said...

You are a writer. You think like a writer. We'll be reading you some day.

April said...

You are absolutely a writer! I doubt myself too, though. I think that's natural. But you can do this. You WILL do this. :)

Green Monkey said...

I'm so lost - I thought I had it all figured out but its gone. I thought I was a writer and I knew what I was writing about but somehow, it escaped me. where did the words go? sometimes they are so powerful - I sit back and WOW myself and then other times its shit.

as you can see, I REALLY connected with you post. self doubt sucks - there I said it (will stop short of putting it on a tshirt or bumper sticker).

"i'm not good enough" is a reoccurring theme for me.

i think i need someone to sit my ass down and hand me assignments.

just rambling here.... :)

best to you, Monkey ME

Terri Tiffany said...

You already are a writer. I've read your words in you MS and I've read them here. They always speak to me:) I know you will find that depth you are looking for. ANd it will be worth it all!

Angie said...

You are a writer. Sometimes I have the same problems with drawing. It just doesn't come out right no matter which way I point the pencil. Other times I amaze myself at what I can produce. I'm sure you already have, but maybe praying about it will help. Some of my best pictures have come out after praying about them. I hope it all comes together for you, I'm sure it will!

ConnieGirl said...

We all doubt ourselves -- good luck with going over your novel!

scarlethue said...

Doubt is a terrible thing-- I'm glad you're finding a way around it.

Jill Kemerer said...

Doubt. Uggh. Same here! Some days I think I'm doing well, and others I feel a miserable failure. But I try to remind myself that I can use those feelings in my writing.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I identify completely with your self-doubt feelings as they are my constant companions. If you love your story and your characters you're half-way home. Certainly, get tips from books on writing, but always listen to that little voice in the back of your head. I've learned it's usually right.

Susan R. Mills said...

Yes... anything, even publication, is possible.

Sharla said...

Oh yes that pesky "doubt" thing. It's so un-user friendly. But I'm here to tell you that everything about you from the way you talk to the way you percieve things is all about the writer you are.

Has nothing to do with publication.

It's like saying a car isn't a car if you take off the wheels. Of course it's still a car, it just isn't leaving the garage.

You are a writer, and an excellent one. One day you will be a published one. Until then, enjoy the un-deadlined freedom of just being what you are.

colbymarshall said...

You're awesome, Janna! Know it, believe it! I doubt myself sometimes, too, but we keep truckin' :-)

Melissa Marsh said...

I think doubt is a normal reaction to writing, and I think that doubt actually is useful because it can make you see what is wrong with the manuscript and can even make you rally behind yourself and make your realize that you CAN do this.

Melissa Marsh said...

And I get the award for the world's longest run-on sentence with my last comment! It's Friday...

Yolanda said...

You will love it and I know you are a wonderful writer. I hope you are having a wonderful summer.

T. Anne said...

You write, therefore you are a writer! I tell myself that at least ten times a day. *sigh* It'll come. Hang in there. Be strong and have peace.

Lydia Kang said...

Yes, you can. I know the same feeling. The fear of failure, seeing your own work and it's potential and how it hasn't MET it's potential yet.
You can do it, Janna!

Janna Qualman said...

^^^^^^^

All of this is why I value you guys so much. Thank you.

Purple Cow said...

I love the butterfly and coccoon analogy. Hang in there...It does sound complicated but if you want it bad enough it will come through.

I, too, am plagued with doubts. I think that these are normal in people who strive to be the best they can be. When we eye perfection we are only bound to see our own flaws.

Rhonda Schrock said...

Doubt? I hear you. It helps to know others struggle, too. I think you write beautifully.

thedomesticfringe said...

Janna, you're awesome...every bit the great writer you want to be! I'm glad you're finding clarity in what you need to bring your WIP to place you want it.

-FringeGirl

WendyCinNYC said...

Come now. You are totally a writer. I can tell by the way you use them werdz.

Don't doubt yourself, chica.

Tabitha Bird said...

Good for you. You ARE a writer :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Absolutely. You can do it!

Melanie Avila said...

I love that that you and I both hit a realization like this at about the same time. Love that feeling.

Go you!

Angie Muresan said...

You are a great writer, Janna. Keep doing what you're doing. Publication will come.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, Janna. You are a writer, honey. You just needed to see it in someone else's heart.

I'm so glad God used good ol' Donald to help you.

We all have doubts. Even Elvis forgot his girlfriend's name when he sang, "Are you LONESOME tonight?" ahahahaha! Now I'm being silly. You are way too young to know who Elvis was.

Love you
Jen

Deb Shucka said...

I'm so happy for this ray of light that seems to be sending your doubt back into the shadows. In all the time I've been visiting you here, I've never had one minute's doubt that you're a writer, and a really good one.

It helped me to read about your doubts, though. Mine are loud, strong and vicious right now. Even knowing it's an inevitable part of the writing journey, I have a hard time remembering how to counter the voices.

Jody Hedlund said...

Wow! I'm excited for you Janna! Sometimes a writing craft book can do that for us, give us the break-through or the inspiration we need to keep persevering!

patti said...

You. Are. A. Writer. Buy a business card if you don't already have one and look at it at the same time as you say, "Take every thought captive..."

Believing in you here in Normal,
Patti

Lori said...

Doubt plays its own important role in the whole charade. It makes us more humble, makes us try harder, work more, right? But while you yourself might be plagued by it, it looks like the people around you know for certain. That is a sign, isn't it? I believe in you too.