Stirrings of doubt

It arrives impersonally, in the mail. “Not a fit for us,” “Not suitable for our current publication schedule,” “Too heavy for us”. Some trickle in couched in comforting words “You are good but this is not you,” “Go back to the drawing board”. “Start over”.

I sit and stare at the words on the screen, each hammering the nail of self doubt in deeper. I feel hot tears prickle at the back of my eyelids. I scold myself for overreacting and tell myself that if I work on it one chapter at a time, it is do-able.

I sit back, pull my novel up  on iBooks and read like a reader would. I cringe. I wonder what the hell was I thinking. Each additional page I turn pops out passages that reek of mediocrity. I am now seeing everything through the lenses of others.

I give up after two chapters. I stare at the project on Scrivener wondering if deleting the 50K words I slaved over will give me the spark I need to start over. My mouse hovers over the trash bin and I stop. I am reminded of the many regrets I have over pruning Facebook, deleting 10 years worth of emails on one moment of frustration.

I leave the laptop and step away to fold clothes instead. One day turns into two. I am now convinced I can only do short passages. 1000 word pieces that draw from my experiences. Fiction is for story tellers and clearly I am not one.

This morning, I scroll through twitter, clicking on blogs by writers, publishers and editors. The universe seems to be sending a message. Maybe this is not the book that will be published. Perhaps I am years away from that printed book in the stores. Keep the spark alive. Keep writing they exhort. Track your progress they urge. Look back and count your wins they say. You are further today than in the past.

I am torn. I am taking a break I tell myself. I will return to writing when I can look at it without fear. I will come back when the story flows from within. When it does, I will trap it in words, embellish it with imagery, polish it and send it out. Until then, this dream shall rest.

16 comments

  1. I agree with LG. Just do it. Don’t overthink it. I love the fact that we are good critics of ourselves and that we react positively to rejection letters but you’ve put in the effort. You’ve written 50k words. That’s not just impressive. That is incredible! Yes, it needs work but then what work of art doesn’t? I have to reply to your mail and I promise to do it.

    In the meanwhile, don’t you dare throw in the towel. DON’T.YOU.DARE!

  2. I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now and I just wanted to say please don’t give up. You write incredibly well – you can’t give up on your dream. The book will definitely happen.

  3. It is hard, receiving criticism or rejection. It feels personal even when the person writing is a stranger. Heart wrenching and wounding. Breathe. Sit back. Don’t. please don’t delete everything. Revision and revision and editing and editing….and taking a break and going back…hard. Promising. Blessings and good luck.

  4. Remember The Dark Knight Rises? Bruce Wayne was told that he could make the jump out of the pit only when he began fearing death. “Fear is what keeps us alive long after we think we are dead”, said Matt Damon in Interstellar.

    So keep that fear alive. And keep that spark alive. When your book is published, you will see us standing there, applauding.

  5. Laksh I truly truly understand where you are coming from. I hate rejection slips. But I also keep track of them because it is one rejection slip closer to my dreams of being a published novelist. Don’t give up. Take a break. But you need to protect your dream with the same passion with which you would protect your girls. You write most beautifully. It’s just a matter of time. Love Binu

    • Thank you Binu. I was really down for a day or two. I am coming to terms with the fact that my book is my baby. It may or may not work for everyone and I should not take it as a reflection of me. I am focusing now on learning how to edit and revise.

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