As a writer, it is important to never get locked into a specific a style of writing. I hope that every book I write will challenge me to climb higher along the learning curve. For me, that will probably include taking risks (stepping outside my comfort zone). Recently, I read Patrick DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers. It’s an excellent novel written in first person from the point of view of the protagonist. Telling a story in first person point of view is something that I would like to try. It won’t occur in my second book (or even the third) but I know at some future date it will happen. My aim at each stage is to always work toward being a better writer. How? It can only happen if I continually broaden my base and adapt to the world. It must always be a given that quality must not be compromised. That having been said, I would be naïve to think that everything I write will be liked. That’s life. But, I will do everything in my power to be viable as a writer.
My writing and research feed into each other. In other words, the research provides the writing with the ideas, sense of presence and creditability; while the writing breathes life into the research through the characters and situations. The two of them are constantly evolving in an ‘organic’ partnership to not only provide the initial ideas but others for me to ponder on. Sure, some of the research is garnered from the internet but the ‘real stuff’ comes from actually eating, sleeping, drinking, walking and just generally having both a presence and experience there. In other words, all I’m trying to say is to get out there and live it (just like Hemingway did).
During this writing process, I felt a large sense of insecurity. There were times during those painful early stages when I was overflowing in self-doubt. My god! I was just learning how to walk. Feedback was sparse because my friends and spouse didn’t want to hurt my feelings or discourage me. The truth was I didn’t want my ego bruised either. I found the journey daunting enough without someone poking more holes in my boat since I was already doing a pretty good job on my own. I think what bothered me the most was the enormous amount of time I deprived my friends and family of while trying to master this craft (not that I really will master it since it is a life-long learning experience). So, for me, I felt a deep sense of obligation to get it right! Questions swam in head: Can I do this? What if it’s not good? What a lousy paragraph! Will I ever get it right before someone reads it? Etc. Etc. Etc. Many of you know what I mean. Soon, though, these questions became the catalysts to push me to work harder and keep focused on what I was doing. I’ve learned that having some doubts is not a bad thing. It keeps me on my toes; it keeps me vigilant; it keeps me humble.
I can only hope as a writer that the dialogue I have with my reader is respected and trusted. And, the doubtful moments that I will share with them will only enhance that dialogue and make it better.
As I get ready to begin writing the second novel, I welcome the insecurity (though I still cringe slightly) and the criticism (though I’m not sure that toque will ever fit comfortably on my head). I guess a writer is like a ‘test pilot’ who is never quite sure whether s/he will either get off the ground or return safely but would never give up that moment to do anything else.
Doubt is a good thing; it keeps you a little off-balanced and I believe more open to alternative possibilities. Doubts are often echoes from past failures (BOY! I hate that word!). So my best advice: try to understand the whys behind your doubts. Those doubts will more than likely always be with you. Your aim is to never let them define you! Once you take control, you will decide to either give in to them or to kick them out of the way. That way at least you’ll know it was you who made that decision—not somebody or something from your past.