I have a draft of Ashland. I have all kinds of massive, massive insecurities about it. It’s not a real book, because real books don’t tell history that way. If I had enough confidence in my narrator and her voice, I wouldn’t be worried about how she tells history. My narrator doesn’t do enough. It’s stupid. No one will like it. My beta readers will tell me I’ve wasted my time and my dreams are dumb.
Or the worst: that it needs a little *something* but none of them and none of me know what.
So, ha ha ha, obviously, I’m not sending it to them yet. This weekend, I was talking to a friend and I was acknowledging that there’s just all kinds of writerly nonsense that everyone does. Like “fuck you, you’re wrong, and you just don’t appreciate my genius!” when you have asked someone for a critique. Or, like the nonsense in the first paragraph. There’s some stuff that you just have to feel and say and do, but you don’t inflict them on others.
You stomp around your kitchen or you yell them to the dog or you do like I do here and write them out so you can see whether they’re legitimate things or just undermining things that keep you from doing the work. Because, if you want the work to be better, if you want to be a better writer, you have to acknowledge you have all these feelings and that, even, they suck. And then you have to put them aside and send the thing anyway or take the critique to heart and see if it is what your work needed. And your readers, at least at this stage, can’t help you with the difficult work if you’re being a baby.
Think of it this way. Say you were in a library and a large book with stiff pages fell off the shelf and impaled you in the stomach. You run up to your friends and you say, “Help, I have this book stuck inside me!” It’s going to hurt when they help you yank it out, but it must come out and, if you thrash about and knock them in the face, they’re going to back off and tell you to find someone else to help you get the book out.
Same thing. So, I’m thrashing about now and will ask for help in a bit.