So, I know I’ve written about this before, but I’m in that stage again. I don’t have a title for it. It’s the You’re-Not-Cut-Out-To-Be-A-Writer stage. It’s not that I don’t have the drive or the ambition or the dream. I mean hell, I’ve going through round three of editing my debut and this thing isn’t exactly what you’d call short. That’s just it, though. I’m going through round *three* of rereading and rewriting and reediting and I am still changing things by the paragraph; still finding phrases that I can’t believe I wrote in the first place and still changing ideas and characters and even major plot twists. And I am taking Fiction Writing II this semester, with the same professor that hated all my writing the previous semester, who first helped really plant the seed in my head that maybe I’m not good enough for this line of business after all. And although I’ve only survived one critique so far and it was definitely better than my first one in Fiction Writing I, it still wasn’t exactly well liked. And while I’ve started round three of edits, I actually haven’t gotten a chance to sit down and work on my story in months, now that school is back in business. But the doubt is still there. It still lingers and sometimes, it overpowers….and it makes me wonder, why am I even trying this in the first place?
One of my closest friends has been with me in this journey from the beginning (because I forced her to be, but we’ll ignore that for now). She’s read the novel from beginning to end and given me feedback that I really appreciate and needed. So she mailed me some of her most recent edits of the earlier chapters. I’ve been itching to write but a huge part of me is so terrified that this story that I’ve invested my heart and soul into is not going to be enough in the end and that fear, that self-doubt, has held me back more than 18 credit hours and two jobs have. And I think my friend realized that. So she also mailed me a copy of a short story I wrote ages ago, that I didn’t even realize she had. And I read it.
And my goodness, was it shit.
It actually made me laugh, how horrid this story I wrote five or six years ago was. I can’t even remember the context of why I wrote it in the first place. My friend wrote in her letter to me that she was sending me this story to help me see how far I have come in a few shorts years that has passed since I wrote it. And I honestly think that my worst chapter in my debut is gold compared to what I had written.
So what does that make my best chapter?
It was definitely an eye opener for me. I am no J.K. Rowling or Ken Follet, by any means. And I may never be, to be honest. My story may have elements within it (the young boy on a quest to save the world) that have been seen in other works of brilliant fiction. It may be cliched in some ways. Hell, sometimes it is downright corny. But why do these things suddenly deem this story as unworthy? Just because it is familiar in some ways does not mean that it is horrid, as I have come to worry and believe. Because while there are elements that are familiar, there are also things that are new: new characters, new relationships, new twists, new worlds, new ideas, new conflicts, new resolutions, new evolutions. And the most important thing is something that I mentioned earlier: I have poured my heart and soul into this story. I believe in it more than I believe in a lot of other things, most definitely more than I have ever believed in myself (isn’t that a paradox?). So what I wonder is, how can a story with so much heart and so much work and so much determination be ruled out from possibly being someone’s favorite fiction, one day? What right do I have of denying the world this story just because of my own insecurities?
I have no right. Which is why tonight, I am taking a few hours for myself and going through the edits my friend sent me and delving back into this story that I love and fear so much. Because publishing this novel is my dream. And no matter how insecure I become or how much I doubt myself, I’m too stubborn to let anything stop me from going after this dream with as much fervor as I can muster…including myself.
So please, if you have a dream, don’t let anything or anyone stop you from going after it. Every single one of us deserves to achieve it. You have that dream for a reason. Now go achieve it.
“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.” — J.R.R. Tolkien