After years of writing followed by months of rewriting, cutting, pasting, more rewriting and changing direction in my manuscript numerous times, I have asked myself what I want to achieve from all of this effort. What would be the ultimate happy ending for me and for my writing?
It isn’t an easy question to answer. Of course I want my years of hard work to be published, but in all honesty I want more. I want the manuscript to be polished, with every word thoughtfully placed and meaningful. I strive to use words I think will capture the emotion of the scene as well as the description. I want readers to feel the same moods, reactions and sensations I experienced throughout my journey; from the anger I had toward my dead father for leaving me with so much clutter and mess to sort through, to the astonishment I had with some of the results of my research. In short not only do I want to bring my readers along with me as they read my story, I seek to transport them into every aspect of it.
It isn’t an easy thing to do. I am constantly doubting myself. And in all honesty, it is quite possible that I am failing. Only time will tell.
The more I read through the words I have written, the more I doubt their power to do anything wonderful and the more I question my ability to create something remarkable. But still, somewhere deep inside me is a little voice encouraging me to keep going, keep writing, keep whittling away at the paragraphs and chapters, keep telling my story. Maybe one day I will do the impossible.
Great writers, and I aspire to being a great writer, are often full of self-doubt. Sylvia Plath, in The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, wrote “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” And I can very much relate to William Goldman’s quote “Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.”
However, as much as I wish the Demon Doubt would disappear and leave me with my laptop, thoughts and words, I have to admit he is there for a reason. Without doubt I would most likely not work as hard on trying to reach perfection, or as close to it as I can. In Colette’s words “The writer who loses his self-doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, to prolixity, should stop writing immediately: the time has come for him to lay aside his pen.”