Thursday, May 9, 2013

Doubt

There are moments of self-doubt that creep in throughout the writing process. Am I unique enough? Observant enough? Talented enough? These moments, at least for me, tend to occur most often during the re-writing process, which, by the way, I'm in the thick of.

Yep. I'm revising the first novel. Again. It's a good thing, mostly. I think I've figured out how to make the reader connect better with the main character -- an issue that several editors have flagged.

It was going great for the first few weeks, smooth sailing. I cut 20,000 words and didn't think twice about it. And then the doubt. It didn't so much creep in as run me over. I was sitting in Starbucks typing away and then -- SLAM. "WTF do you know?" it growled. "You're a f&*%ing princess."

It had the voice of a trucker, this doubt, deep, gravelly and southern. Mississippi, maybe? Hard to tell because I move in Canadian circles. But I could smell the cigarettes and BBQ on its breath.

I was re-working a highly-charged emotional scene -- the breakdown of a relationship that's been holding my main character together -- and I didn't know how to write it. Instead of the usual doubts, I wondered "Am I deep enough? Complex enough? Have I experienced enough?"

It felt like I was pulling from clichés and shit I've seen on TV, putting that scene together, like all of my words were coming from an artificial place. I thought that no matter how much imagination and empathy I poured into that page that the emotions would never ring true. The trucker was right, I realized. WTF did I know about this kind of gut-wrenching pain? I AM a f&*%ing princess.

Maybe I'm jinxing myself here, but despite a few bumps along the road, I've lived a pretty charmed life. I've had relationships break down, sure, but I've never been in crisis over it like my main character, and I've never really struggled like she's struggling, or rather, like I want to make her.

Do I have the emotional depth required? The raw resources to draw from? Right now, it sure doesn't feel like it.

I know this too shall pass; I've been doing this long enough, after all. But I am feeling the doubt particularly intensely during this revision.

I suppose I should feel grateful for the doubt. At least it's a feeling. Without it I think the emptiness, the numbness of revising what I've already revised 50 times before would take over and there I'd be, wading through a pool of room-temperature water, my princess gown floating in the waves.