What I Need to Keep Writing: A Realization and a Resolution (and a tiny bit of whining)

When I attended Viable Paradise 17, back in 2013, I got a massive shot of “YES, YOU COULD BE A PROFESSIONAL WRITER OF FICTION” juice.  And that kept me going, when I got home, so that it took me about another year to finish the book, even accounting for all the rewrites required by what I’d learned at VP.

At that point, my self-confidence was flagging.  Surely, this book sucked.  Nothing any of the pros at VP had said about the book, or about my skill, was real.  They were just being nice.  So I sent the book out to Beta, and while I got some feedback that was critical of elements of the book, most of them were also quite complimentary, with a running comment being variations of “If I’d bought this in a bookstore, I’d consider it money well spent.”  That renewed my self-belief, and I spent a few months rewriting and editing quite happily, and polished it up.  Then I sent it out to agents.

I’ve talked before about how the agent submission process is long and often debilitating. Nothing has changed. And so, my “Writer self-belief” is now at an all-time low.  And I’m finding myself working on a new project, but unable to actually write.  I’ve got an outline; I know the shape of the plot… and it’s going precisely nowhere.

I am realizing that I am a writer who needs semi-regular bolstering of my belief in myself.  Which is lame, but there it is. I need to do more writing-related activities, at least once a year or so, to keep my belief in this path going.  Otherwise I crawl into a hole and stop writing, which drives me insane.  I want to write.  I maybe even need to write.  But if I’m not doing it, I lose the thread.

So: In the short term, more talking to my VP friends.  In the long term: Paradise Lost next year.  Maybe even Taos Toolbox.

Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

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