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The fear of creation

I wonder if people really understand just how hard it is to write, to create something from nothing? I mean, anyone can write, put words on a piece of paper. But to write well? Well enough that people will not only read what you write about, but they’ll tell everyone they meet about it. They’ll clamor for the next book in the series or the next installment and they’ll buzz about it in their social media circles. My biggest issue is that I don’t think I’m good enough. I don’t think I write well enough to make people want to read it. Even when my beta readers gush over the stuff I share with them, I still hear that voice in my head that tears it down and tells me that it’s not, I’m not, good enough.

I believe that writing something for public consumption is the hardest of the arts. In movie making, visual effects can overcome a bad or weak story. Creating a painting is easier, in my opinion, in that visual art is in the eye of the beholder. Some will like it, some will not, but it is still, after all, art. But stories. Books. Words on a page. There’s the rub. Trying to create something that others will see as you see it in your mind. You put the visions in your head into words on a page.

At first, you don’t worry about spelling or syntax or grammatical errors, nothing. You just try to keep up as the scene plays out in your head. Then you repeat this process until the muse runs dry and the words stop flowing and the scenes stop playing. Then you read it over and correct the glaring mistakes. And read it again and again and again and again. And correct the mistakes you missed before. And try not to get upset with yourself because you apparently forgot all of your high school typing lessons and couldn’t type your way out of a wet paper bag. You start to second guess yourself and read each section of the scene to see if it flows right. You rip out sections, add sections, rewrite sections, rip them out again. You tweak, twist, worry and write. You see the scene in your head but the voice in the back of your mind tells you it’s not good enough. That no one will ever want to read it, that your friends and family are only telling you it’s good because they love you, not because they would truly want to read that drivel but to spare your feelings. So you get discouraged. And sit there dealing with the voice telling you it’s nothing but crap (Trust me, those are NOT the real words used) and no one would ever want to read it. So you take a break. You stop writing and you go off and do research because every book needs good solid research, right? Or at least that’s how you prove it to yourself. And you read the 3 and a half billion websites that have sprung up around ePublishing and self-publishing. And you read the lists of “What You Must Do To Succeed Or You’ll Never make Any Money At Writing”. And you laugh cause what started this trip was the overwhelming need to get that story out of your head and on to paper, not for a love of money, though that’d be nice too if it happened, you know. And you read about the failures, the people who wrote and wrote and wrote and barely sold a dozen copies. Or you hear from other “authors” that they are bringing in $20,000 a month in sales and are making a good living doing this. So you read. And read. And read some more. You read the authors who don’t seem to be selling much of anything and you read the authors that brag about how well they are doing. You read as much as you can. And you compare your writing to their writing. Most of the time you say to yourself, “I can write better than this, this is horrible.” Some of the time though, you read something that inspires you, that you want to emulate and you annotate it and re-read it, over and over. Then you go back to your story and tear into that scene again. This time, however, you read it over and you wonder how you could have written such garbage? You KNOW how incomprehensible it is, how badly it wanders and where the errors are. So, you start over. Except for this time, the scene doesn’t flow as the first time. You get lost in plotless corners, meandering sentences, and lifeless characters. You read over the scene in horror wondering what you’ve done. And how you can fix it. Then you rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and……. you get the idea. Interspersed with all that are the days that stretch into weeks of no progress, no words, nothing written at all. But you force yourself to not listen to the voice screaming that you’re a fake, a hack, a loser and you push to get the story written. And then, one day, you look up and realize that you wrote it. That it’s done. Now we start the editing process. You read it over and correct your mistakes, in spelling, in grammar, in syntax, in placement, in everything. You grumble to yourself that if you could type you’d rule the world. And when you get to the end of the book, you rinse and repeat. And you do this four or five times. Then you find someone who is willing to be an editor for you (Hoping of course that they are inexpensive as this is all out of your pocket) and you send the manuscript off and then climb into your slimy pit of shame and desperation, afraid to check your email for fear that they’ve thrown the manuscript back at you for having wasted their time with such a load of crap. And all the while, as you wait for them to return your baby to you, that negative voice grows louder and louder, causing the self-doubt to swell and the knowledge that everyone is going to point and laugh at you.

That’s where I sit today, I’m still in the writing/editing process and I fight these demons every single day. One, because I refuse to release a book as badly written and as badly edited as the majority of eBooks I find these days and two because I really do fear rejection and ridicule of my work.

 

Steven Sheeley

See the 'Steven Who' link on the menu

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