No doubt

I sometimes wonder if rewrites happen because the book isn’t ready, or because the writer isn’t.

Yesterday I walked into a children’s bookstore. Immediately I felt comfortable, relaxed, and inspired. But there was an undercurrent of something else… anguish? dread? frustration? No. It was doubt. Yesterday was a bad time to go trolling around stacks of beautiful, published books because I’m in the middle of writing a novel. And middles are famous for becoming quagmires of doubt and questions. Should I change some of the characters’ names? Should I change the central symbol to something else entirely? Should I amp up the humor in an otherwise creepy book?

Of course everything is worth testing out. Why not? Nothing’s written in stone. But at some point I’m going to have to make final decisions. I can’t work for several more years on recreating this novel while doubt and fear make it hard to move on, and ambition makes me take things a little too seriously. It’s a paralyzing combo, one I’ll have to conquer.

We’ll see what happens, because I’m going to keep pressing on. Of that, there is no doubt.

Doubt

“The only limits to our realizations of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Today I tried to do an act-by-act outline of the new book. It’s excrutiating when everything is still a general idea, but I decided to push as much as I could and I did manage to come up with some solid ideas, though I still don’t really know where this is headed. I have no idea what action the protagonist can take to rectify her situation. I still only have a nebulous idea of what her situation is and the setting details escape me entirely. I need to do a lot of research, so I wonder if I should dial down the expectations for the next 27-28 days to concentrate on creating an in-depth outline rather than a full draft.

And then I wonder if the thing that is really stumping me is doubt.

The story I’m trying to tell is daunting in scope. I’m writing something that will either make people laugh in my face at the sheer audacity and ridiculousness of it, or knot their foreheads at the juxtaposition of its diverse elements. In the end, the only person who I’m sure will understand this story is me. And maybe that’s the thing. I’d like to write this story just for myself; my own entertainment and my own opportunity to rant about Colossal Stupidity, but I’m not sure I can. There is a nasty little ambitious part of me that says, “If you’re not going to get paid for it, you’re wasting your time.” It’s a small, cold, white, slimy thing this destructive ambition of mine. And for this story, more than any other, I have to stamp it out.

Is that you, eynaK?