Currently I am knee deep in manuscript edits, which is a lovely blend of torture and fun. It’s wonderful to see that what I’ve written is not nearly as horrible as it seemed while I was frantically banging it out.
However, going through this process highlights one of my biggest weaknesses as a writer (well perhaps also as an adult with responsibilities like raising kids). I seriously lack attention to detail skills. No matter how much I tried to proof my papers in school, I always got marked down for simple errors. I miss grammatical mistakes in my stories. I write so fast, I often make simple errors ( for example: it’s and its. Not because I don’t know the difference, but because I am not paying attention). Probably my favourite (yes, I spell it with a u, and it gets edited out of everything and makes everyone crazy but me) unexplainable error is my determination to spell against, agains’t. I have no idea why I do this. It’s so embarrassing (hey, consequently, a word I cannot remember how to spell no matter what I do) when I publish something only to find errors like this on a later read through.
The editing process is a place when it can become all too easy to fall into that hole of self doubt where all you can see are your errors and weaknesses. Some, like the above, I am learning to find humor in (agains’t?!?! Really?). Others I really have to work not to focus on, because focus on those leads to The Darkness.
The Darkness (as I shall now refer to self doubt) plagues me. I second guess almost everything, and often feel like I cannot trust my own interpretation of characters, motives, plot lines without someone there telling me it’s okay.
I often wonder if I shouldn’t put a sticky note on my computer monitor reminding me that I am a good writer. I was raised in the school of Don’t Take Compliments. Figuring out how to honor my instincts as a writer often feels like wearing shoes that don’t fit — even acknowledging my strengths privately can feel like hubris that is unbecoming.
Which honestly is a pile of crap. How on earth can I write and publish a book I believe in if I don’t trust that I am putting out something of worth?
The truth, under The Darkness, is that I have been conditioning myself not to believe in something that is written deep in my bones — I would not have spent the last 20 odd years writing if I didn’t get something from it. And I certainly wouldn’t have taken risks with sharing what I write if I didn’t think what I was doing was worth it in some way, silly errors included.
Somehow, I feel like these posts always devolve into some form of believe in yourself, rah rah rah. Forgive me. Perhaps this is the only way I’ll prop myself up through the quagmire of finding it’s and its, against and agains’t, and figuring out what the hell notes like hey that word there that I need mean. I’ve also been completely consumed (and inspired) by Avian30‘s Do The Thing, which got my ass in gear hardcore when I was only half way done with a manuscript and had no idea how I would continue to climb that mountain.
Luckily, as of right now, once I push The Darkness aside, the only mountain I have in front of me is editing pages and pages of smut.
How I suffer 😀