They say all things come in threes. This includes, I suspect, messages from God. Actually, I’m pretty sure of this, because I got the same message three different ways this morning. I think he felt this message in particular was important enough to drill into my head multiple times ;).
You see, I’ve been having a little crisis of faith these last few days. Ok, maybe it’s not so little. As a matter of fact, it’s felt as ginormous as a mountain.
Now that I’ve started the detailed outlining process, I find myself repeatedly running into story gaps that are stumping me. I know point A and point D, but points B and C keep wanting to play hide and seek and I’m just not in the mood, yo. Not in the mood. Of course, this starts me heading down the dangerous path of, “Oh my God, what if I can’t pull this off? What if it’s a brilliant idea, but that’s all it ever materializes into being, because I don’t have the [insert your word of choice here: talent/stamina/intelligence/creativity] to make this come to life the way it should?
WHAT IF THIS STORY COULD HAVE REALLY BEEN FANTASTIC IN SOMEONE ELSE’S HANDS, BUT IN MINE, IT NEVER EVEN TAKES FLIGHT?
You get the idea. Last night, I had one of these moments of self-doubt attack me, and I rambled on about it on my Livejournal to my poor, unsuspecting friends.
Then message from God #1 hit me this morning. My friend, Ashlyn Macnamara, replied to my über-neurotic Livejournal post with a perfectly sane — and more importantly, reassuring — message that all writers go through this same crisis of faith/self-doubt. And in fact, those who don’t probably lack the self-awareness to see that they’re probably the ones who have the most reason to doubt themselves, because they’re also likely to have delusions of grandeur about their talent (or lack thereof, as the case may be).
Reading that first thing this morning definitely calmed my nerves. But they were still feeling a little frayed. Then message from God #2 came along.
When I logged into Facebook, the first thing I saw was a quotation that someone had posted. It said:
“Don’t skip steps. There is no victory being placed on top of the mountain. You have to climb it.” –Heather Frey
Of the many, many quotations that float around Facebook, how apropos is it that this would be the first one I would encounter today? Yeah. Not a coincidence.
But just to make sure I got the point (because I can be a bit of a stubborn one sometimes — ok, all the time), there was one more instance of this message waiting for me. When I logged onto Twitter, I saw that the wonderful Roz Morris had posted a link to a fantastic blog post, in which she responded to a writer who was experiencing a lack of motivation for the novel he/she was working on. This bit in particular caught my eye at once:
“All the creatives I know – artists, animators, game designers, musicians, choreographers – worry that we are creating rubbish. We’re hoping we can fix it before anyone finds out. I look at my finished novels and cannot imagine what super-brain made them so coherent – because now I’m on a new idea (The Venice Novel) I’m splashing blind.” — Roz Morris [nailyournovel.com]
She may as well have been speaking to me.
So… I think I’ve got it. I mean, the self-doubt hasn’t left me (nor will it ever, probably:)), but I’ve definitely gotten the message that it’s something I’ll have to deal with — and I can’t let it paralyze me into not pushing through and getting this book (correction, these books) written. Ten-four, God.
I’ve made this analogy before, but it’s so appropriate, so I’ll make it again. Writing a novel is like running a marathon. It’s a long, grueling road ahead and there are no guarantees when you’re standing at that start line that you’re going to have a fantastic race. You could get injured, you could hit the wall, you could run out of fuel, you could just have a bad day and it’s just that: a bad day. Do you drop out before the race has even begun because you’re so consumed with fear that one of these possibilities might come true? No. You start the race anyway. And you have faith that you’ll not only finish it, but that you’ll finish it well.
And that’s what I’ll do here. I don’t know where the next few years will take me with this trilogy, and I sure hope I cross that finish line with a flourish. But I won’t know that for a long time, and that’s where the faith comes in. Because as tempting as it would be to jump in a time machine and be done with it already, it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying if I hadn’t first gone through the struggles to get there. That and, of course, time machines don’t exist. But that’s beside the point :).
The point is, if you want to embark on this long, perilous journey, you’ll need faith. Lots of it.
It takes a lot of faith to believe that you’ll go from all of this…
… to this
But it will happen.