The definition of doubt, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction. It also defines my frame of mind at the moment, and the problem with that is that while a certain amount of it is very good when writing, too much of it is very, very bad. It’s inhibiting, and for a while it has been paralysing. It has affected my confidence in my ability to write, and my self-belief was shot. Words were written and then scrubbed. More words were written, and then rewritten to be scrubbed again and then not written at all. I got to the point where I seriously didn’t think I could write anymore.
Somehow, despite the doubts of the past year, an ending to my WIP was reached and written. That’s when the doubt sneakily crept back in and I decide to write an alternative ending. Which ending was the right ending? I didn’t know and couldn’t decide.
Was the ending the problem or was it the book itself?
Now I’m back at the beginning of the current WIP because having read it through, I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t working, the voice was lost. I tried rewriting the book, making it sharper, more immediate, but still it wasn’t working.
Was it time to shelve it and walk away? Well, I did for a while.
With the end of the summer looming, I managed to push all the doubts aside, and by now there were very many of them, and started again. It hit me straight away. I was writing the book in the ‘wrong’ person. I rewrote the first few chapters quickly, setting the ‘I’ aside for the third person, and I think it’s working. It’s got to be done quickly, before I change my mind, before I let the doubts creep back in.
I’ve been wrestling with the question of why I’ve been experiencing so many doubts this year for a while now. Writing is a solitary occupation; there are lots of rewards, few of them financial, and lots of knocks, which I’ve weathered as best I can. But recently I’ve been wondering whether it’s the right occupation for me. The problem is that there isn’t anything else that I’d rather do. So I’m writing again. And hoping and working towards being published again. I’m persevering, another word which, like doubt, I’d rather scrub from the dictionary.
I was going to write a nice little post on Dr. Seuss, which would have been far more uplifting, interesting and fun. So when I find the right frame of mind, that’s what I’ll write - next time.