In the BBC production of I, Claudius, the title character has a moment where he says something along the lines of, “Let all the poisons, that lurk in the mud, hatch out.” Now, Claudius wasn’t talking about the self-doubt we all have and that writers can sometimes take to extremes, but I felt it was a good fit for my mood.
You write something – no, check that. I write something, and then I walk away, and all the shit starts to seep out from the dark. The self doubt. The worry. The second guessing. I start to think, “What the fuck have I done?” And I don’t have Bones at my side to say, “What you had to do, what you always do, turn death into a fighting chance to live.” And let’s face it, if that happened, I’d probably shit myself anyway cuz DeForest is no longer with us… but I digress…
I write a story, and then I fret over it. I let people read it, and they tell me:
- It’s great!
- It’s good!
- It’s okay.
- It sucks.
- You wrote this? You? I would’ve thought a child with a crayon sprawled it on a wall somewhere.
- Why did you write this piece of shit? Did you want to waste my time?
Okay, so maybe not #5. Or #6. But I don’t know. Not everyone tells me what they think. Maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t know.
Right now I’m going through this with the epic fantasy. Specifically, my brain is spitting out things like:
- Is it too old school?
- Is it stupid?
- Are you stupid?
- Is it not different enough? (Cuz everything has to be different or a copy of something different, right?)
- Is the ending stupid?
- Are the characters stupid?
- Is the plot stupid?
Stupid seems to be a theme. At my writers group this past weekend, the room was split in half; 50% liked it, 50% had some major issues. Worse, a lot of their issues have been my issues. So does that mean it’s time to trunk it? Great question! Wish I knew the answer.
Every writer goes through this. I know that. Knowing doesn’t make it any easier. You would think that knowing would somehow mitigate the whole god damned thing, but it doesn’t. I still have to go through it and come out the other side.
What’s on the other side?
Well, you can:
- Identify that there are, in fact, problems with the book/story, and then fix them
- Identify that there are, in fact, problems with the book/story, and don’t fix them / trunk it
- Decide it’s all in your head and move forward
- Take up drinking (can be combined with any of the above options)
- Build a mountain top secret lair from which to launch your take over of the world
As you can see, lots of options. But I have to work my way through to one of them…