Earlier in the week, literary agent Nathan Bransford wrote:
"It sure seems like the majority of people in the
world think they can write a book. And not only write a book, but write
it as well as a published author. And not only just as well as a
published author, but just as well as bestselling published authors who
are among the elite in terms of building an audience and having their
work catch on with readers. There are lots of people out there who
think it's easy, think they could do it, and all but a handful are
It was part of a longer post about writers having difficulty figuring out if their writing is good or not, which you can read here.
The truth is, I'm not sure if I can write a book worthy of publishing. If I do get published, I'm not sure if Diary of Bedlam will be the book that succeeds or whether it will it become one of those awful novels authors talk about that sit in their desk drawers as a reminder of their early failures. Of course I dream it will be a huge success–I fantasize about winning an Edgar and which actors will play my main characters. Then I set aside the fantasy and get down to work, because dreams will only get you so far.
I know the odds are tough and I know I have a lot to learn about the writing craft. But I admit to having blinders on, because if I stopped to worry too long about whether I can write a book that's good enough (and lucky enough) to get published, I'd give up. If I didn't think I could do it eventually, I wouldn't have even started.
And frankly, I'm not fit to do anything else. It's either this or being a barista at Starbucks, or a greeter at Wal-mart (not that I'm dissing any form of gainful employment since I have not been employed, gainfully or not, in ten years).
If I sound desperate, I am. But it is what I'd call controlled desperation. I know I want to write a novel. I know I want to have it published. I am driven by these wants, but drive is not enough. For me, some amount of desperation is necessary to motivate me to move forward. Sure it would be nice to move before the desperation stage, but hell, the only thing that really matters to me is that I'm moving.
When Diary of Bedlam is polished and ready to submit, I'll go back to work on it's sequel, the first draft of which is about 1/3 finished, called Diary of Deceit. But maybe for good measure I should change to working title to Diary of Desperation.
I think a lot about success, and I also think about failure. But since thoughts of failure come more naturally to me than those of success, I'm careful to shut away those niggling "maybe I can't do it" feelings as soon as they rise up. If it turns out I'm wrong and I can't do it, I'll deal with that later. After all, there's a Starbuck's on every corner, and I hear they're hiring (although in this economy, maybe not).
In the meantime, I'll leave you with this video of Howard Jones performing "Things Will Only Get Better" with Ringo Starr and Sheila E.:
The lyrics in verse two seem applicable to writing: "A lonely path, an uphill climb, success or failure will not alter it."