As writers we all have those days when we doubt ourselves. We wake up, hoping that we will jump out of bed with excitement and race to our Work in Progress with elation and the solid belief that ‘This is It’, this is the one that will make my name as a writer.
But, unfortunately, we’ve had a bad night’s sleep. Instead of feeling refreshed and awake, we’re groggy and irksome. We drag ourselves into some clothes and contemplate what to have for breakfast. We think about sitting down to do some work, because we know we should. Yet we can’t face it. What does it matter anyway? No one’s going to read our novel. Our characters are flat and the plot barely exists. Perhaps some of us manage to get passed this part and may even think, ‘the only way to fix my characters and plot is to work on it’ and so we make it to our computer.
Then we open up our work and wrinkle our nose. We didn’t really write that, did we? It’s drivel. It’s worse than drivel. It doesn’t even make sense for our hero to do that, and why on earth is he prancing around the place following instructions? He isn’t even making decisions. And how many adverbs can we possibly fit into one measly sentence?
That’s it. It’s hopeless. It’s beyond repair. We can’t possibly rescue this terrible collection of loosely connected prose. We shouldn’t even try. After all, we’re just kidding ourselves, we’re not writers. We’re people pretending to be writers, but we really aren’t good enough.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Well, it certainly happens to me. A little more than I’d like to admit. I have a Jekyll and Hyde personality when it comes to writing. Part of me believes in my ability and my determined desire to be a writer beyond any reasonable doubt. The other part taunts me with the much more likely odds of being a complete failure. When I assert that other people have succeeded, so why shouldn’t I? This latter part comes back with – but so many more have failed, like you will. It’s sneaky, but logical, so it’s tough to argue with.
Yet it only takes a very small victory to remind myself why I’m going through this struggle. Just one little thing that reassures that side of me which has faith in my dream. And that’s what happened yesterday.
Yesterday I picked up my Writing Magazine and finally reached the pages where the winner of the Last Line competition was published. Some of you may recall that I entered this competition. I heard nothing back. I hadn’t won.
What I didn’t know was that I had been short listed.
I only realised this when I saw my name in the list at the end of the winning story. Out of how ever many entries I made it into the final ten. For a whole second I stared at my name and didn’t really understand. My doubts had gotten the better of me in the months of silence and convinced me that perhaps that story wasn’t any good after all. But here is proof that it was. It DID make it. Maybe not to the top, but it was recognised – and for the moment that’s as much as I need. It’s validation that I’m not imagining that I could be a published writer. It’s reassurance that I’m getting there. It’s one step closer to being the dream.
So we all have our difficult days. Sometimes we might even give into them and spend the entire day watching television instead of pushing forward in our writing (What, me? Today? Never!). But it’s worth remembering that the small victories are just as important as the big ones that we dream of, and in order to achieve those we still have to make the effort.
As Walt Disney said: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
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