But it’s not what you think.
Of course I have the I’m not going to hit my goal doubt. Hell writing a novel is fraught with the I’m not going to finish variety to begin with (and of course it’s cousin, the why did I want to do this in the first place). To be clear, I have had doubts that I could hit my word total since before I started. That’s part of what makes it a good goal. If I had no doubt I wouldn’t be asking enough of myself. So that doubt is there and it increases and decreases proportionally with my productivity.
But I am talking about a totally different animal. What I am doubting is my creativity. Now wait, before you gasp or pooh-pooh me, allow me to explain.
You see during my feedback night, the main critical theme was that my readers wanted me to do more with my characters and world. Not because they found it lacking, but because they found it intriguing. <<Yes, I fully acknowledge that that is an awesome criticism.>>
So my readers have asked me to push my envelope. Since their critique is about my main characters and my world, all of which are in Book 2, it applies to said book as well. As I am writing Book 2, I am attempting to push my envelope and I am having distinct moments where I am feeling and thinking, “Damn, I’m just not creative enough for this.” You know, as I write this it strikes me that there is something really ironically amusing about a writer who feels that he is not creative enough for his own creation. I wonder if Dr. Frankenstein felt like he wasn’t a good enough surgeon to put his monster together after it was already together? Even though I could quite fittingly extend the exploration of that allusion, I shall forthwith discontinue unless popular sentiment argues otherwise.
What’s most interesting to me about this doubt is that it is really just the newest side of the blank page syndrome. BTW, I just made that up, so what I mean by that is that as a writer you constantly have to battle with staring at a blank page and struggling to put something down. Often I deal with this by simply writing (remember, writers write). I will often start including details about my environment if I’m drawing a blank, anything to get me going. In fact, this afternoon I’ve managed to churn out a measly 108 words while my son is with a friend and I’m dealing with blank page syndrome by blogging (see writers write). But where I’m going with this is that there is always something to get in the way — blank page, doubt, a desire to edit the last sentence instead of writing the next, the wrong light, the committee arguing about what’s not working. And in my case its most recent manifestation, doubt that I am creative enough to improve my own creation. Pesky stuffed rabbits and readers!
So far how I’ve dealt with this is to work in odd random details. This usually leads to a cascade of odd character/environment details. Interesting, but hard to tell of its effect until another human being reads it. So we’ve got months to go before seeing the full impact of that one. That said, I also realize that novel writing is a lot like brushing your hair – you keep running the brush through it and it gets a little nicer each time. I also see it as a lot like creating layers, but I don’t have a good metaphor for that. Perhaps I need to take up baking with Phyllo. Put down one good layer, then improve it with the next layer, and then the next. Eventually, you end up with an intricately creative work. That’s how it has been working for me so far.
Now I feel like I can write! So instead of editing this and making it all pretty and wordsmithed-nice, I am going to go back to my novel and see if I can get some words done before my son reappears.