And then I started to worry. What if it wasn’t good enough? The Sacred Flame was pretty good, so what if this one didn’t hold up? Maybe I needed to add more character flaws. Maybe Toscana needed more emotion. Maybe the plot needed more twists and turns.
Oh my God. What was I going to do?
Let me introduce you to my good friend Doubt. She’s tenacious, gritty, and incredibly determined. She can be the best friend you’ve never wanted.
If you’ve ever been plagued by doubts, join the club. Writers (and other kinds of artists) work diligently, feverishly, on their works and then put them out there for the world to see and criticize. I mean, really? Who thought up this system? Of course the good praise is wonderful, but if you have doubts, the good stuff won’t last. You’ll brush it aside, so easily, and focus on the bad.
When I first joined a writer’s group I was nervous. I’d never read my work for people, in front of people. But they were a friendly group and I managed. Then came the critique. The first person started with something good then moved on to suggest changes. The second person followed suit. By the time the third person spoke I was in shock. How could they criticize this jewel of a story? Didn’t they know how hard I worked on it? Couldn’t they feel the magic between the characters? I stopped listening around person five and simply nodded, at least I think I did. And when the group ended and we all went home, I swore I would never go back.
It took about a week of playing the same visual loop in my brain, and then I let go. I wanted to be a writer. A good writer. And if was going to become a good writer, I needed to learn. So I went back and when the current leader left after several months, I became the new leader.
Everybody has doubts. Maya Angelou said, “Each time I write a book, every time I face that yellow pad, the challenge is so great. I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.’” One of the greatest authors of our time had doubts and yet she managed to keep writing. And that’s what you do. You keep writing.
Bella Toscana may be a masterpiece and it may be a flop. Or somewhere in between. Whatever it is, is perfect. I have to trust that I’ve brought the story to life in the best way I can. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
So write to your heart’s content and then let go. Trust that it’s good. Have confidence that you’ve done your best. And share your work with people. We all need good books to read.