Thursday, May 23, 2013

Good Lord, What Have I Done?

Let me begin by saying that it seemed like a perfectly good idea at the time.  For some reason, I happened to clink on an email that I had absolutely no time to read.  But I did read it.  It was from Writers' Digest, and it mentioned new agents who were accepting submissions.  I scanned the various agents.  One stood out.  Perhaps it was the red hair...I do have an affinity for other gingers.  Perhaps it was because he was from the South.  Maybe it was because he mentioned story collections.  No idea, but I decided to send off some stories.  Just to see...you know?  Sometimes you feel so...compelled to follow a notion through to the end. 

Which would be all well and good, except I can be a bit...impetuous.  I have a tendency to run and jump, simply believing that the world will reach out and catch me.  (This is not to say that I haven't fallen on my face a time to two.)

So...I did it.  I wrote some blathering thing and included two partials, and I hit "send."  Then...I panicked.  Oh no!  But it had seemed like such a good idea.  Suddenly, I feel like I am back in elementary school--with home-cut bangs and braces and glasses.  What I pride as being "fun" and "quirky" just feels...silly.   

The doubt sets in.

That thing I wrote...the one that I was so proud of...what if it is total crap?  What if the beta readers lied?  What if no one had the heart to tell me?  And why the hell didn't I think any of this until I hit the "send" button?

It doesn't matter that I have sold some stories...the doubt doesn't go away.  I don't know if it ever does.  I wonder if other writers, writers whom I admire, feel the same nagging sense of inadequacy?  I think about the thing Amanda Palmer said about the fraud police.  I try to catch my breath, which seems to have seeped out of my lungs and shows no sign of returning.  I lean over and put my head between my legs to quell the spinning room and overwhelming desire to puke. 

I try to remember everything I have ever heard or read by anyone whom I have ever admired about self-doubt and the creative process.  Then I remember...

Make Good Art...   


...and the air returned to my lungs.

Maybe I did act impetuously.  Perhaps I will never be as proper or professional as some writers.  I will always retain a bit of the girl with the home-cut bangs and the glasses.  Perhaps I will always doubt myself...but I don't doubt my stories, or the people who inhabit them.  I don't doubt the voice inside me that wants to be heard.

Ask me again, though, next time I hit that "send" button.  I might not sound so brave then.

What about you?  Do you feel like the Fraud Police are waiting to expose you?  How do you cope with the doubt after you hit the "send" button?