I recently sat on my crippling self-doubt for a few seconds and courageously/stupidly sent a new manuscript out to a literary agent. I thought, having done this, I could forget all about it and concentrate on my next manuscript, which has been about 60% completed for the last couple of months.
How wrong was I! My crippling self-doubt has not just reared its ugly head, but has brought along its entire family to have a party in my office – and boy can they party! All I can do is quietly creep in and gate-crash their shenanigans, sit in the corner with my laptop and stare vacantly at my inbox.
I’ve read so many posts on sending out a manuscript, pushing it to the back of your mind and diving head first into the next one. I’ve tried, really I have – but I’m just not that good at diving (neither literally nor metaphorically – a painful belly-flop is more my style).
By clicking on ‘send’ I seem to have completely stifled my creativity. ‘The Waiting’ has become tortuous.
It took a conversation with my 7 year-old the other night to make me stop wallowing and force myself to get on with it.
I’ve been off on maternity leave for the past year and am returning to work in September.
Son: I don’t want you to go back to work. I want you to stay home so that you can take us to school and pick us up from school. And you always have to do work at night when you’re a teacher and don’t have time to play with us.
(It felt like a punch in the stomach and reminded me of something my 4 year old said a couple of months back. We were walking through the village one evening and he heard a lamb bleating. ‘Oh, he wants his Mum. She must be working late again.’ I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time).
Me: But I have to work so that we can have money to do nice things.
Son: But I’d rather have no money … and anyway, you’re an author now. Why can’t you just write lots of books then you can work and be at home.
If only it were that simple, eh? I guess that’s the dream for every author. And I’m not talking J.K fortunes here, just being able to write full-time and earn a decent enough living. It seems like a far-reaching dream, yes, but it certainly isn’t going to be reached by wallowing.
So my son’s heart-wrenching words have made me snap out of my ‘wallowing in the waiting’ misery. I have stories to write … after I’d played another round of ‘Match Attax’ top trumps that was.
So, my next manuscript is once more up and running and once the first draft is done and it’s having a well-earned rest, I know what I want to start working on next. And honestly, ‘The Waiting’ doesn’t seem so painful now that I’m writing again.
As to the party in my office? Those self-doubters didn’t have that much stamina after all! Besides, we’ve got a birthday party going on here at the weekend – the self-doubting family have nothing on twelve 8 year old boys!
So if you too are wallowing in ‘The Waiting’, I hope you can find a way to make it easier. And whilst I can’t forget about the manuscript that’s ‘out there’, working on my new story is making it no more than a niggling-niggle that needs checking on every once in a while, rather than a full-blown case of hives. And if that standard rejection does ping into my inbox? Pah! I’m sure the disappointment won’t come near what I felt as a child when I realised that there is no such thing as a real pink panther!
I’ve got plenty more stories to keep writing and my debut book to be ridiculously excited about (verging on human-combustion levels). And publication day will certainly warrant a full-blown party!