Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Hello, lovelies! So, you may have read from my most recent Novels and Narrations post about (finally) working with my thesis advisor on my actual novel. I have a lot of anxiety about it (no surprise), but it also introduced a new fear, related to writing. Most namely about the process of writing alone and wondering if I can be good enough to continue after graduation. Or, if I’m somehow a fraud who can’t write quality novels without someone else guiding me.
Let’s dive a little deeper!
I don’t think it surprises anyone that writing is, in many ways, a very solitary practice. There are definitely ways to make it feel less so. Creating or finding a writing community. Joining writing groups or pursuing a degree. Having writer friends to reach out to. Even social media can be a way to combat the loneliness that sometimes accompanies writing.
But, at the end of the day, only you can write your stories.
A part of my frustration, as of late, of being unagented stems from this; from writing alone. I recognize that an agent will not be writing my books for me (nor should they be and I don’t want them to). I take a lot of pride in writing my work. But, the idea of having someone in your corner to help guide you when you’re stuck; someone who confirms when you’re winning or signals when it’s time to move on, is something I’ve never had. It’s a partnership I’ve always wanted.
For the first time, through my MFA advisor, I feel like I’ll have someone like that. Someone working closely with me and my work, with the goal of getting it published. I’m very excited about it. I’m hoping it’ll make me a stronger writer. Yet, it’s brought up a new anxiety: what if, after I graduate and I no longer have someone in my corner, I’m not cut out to write “publishable” books alone?
Fears Regarding Writing Alone
I guess this fear of writing alone ties less into the act of writing itself. I know writing is a solitary affair. I’m used to that. We also know it’s something I’ve struggled with, the past few years. I recognize that and know some things to do to address it. No, this newer fear is that I haven’t been published because I can’t write publishable quality books without someone else.
Of course, I have wonderful beta readers I’ve worked with in the past. I’ve hired editors. Both experiences have been fantastic and I recommend wholeheartedly. But I fear that I’m not strong enough as a writer to become published without a partner, guiding my hand. Personally, I do think (deep down, if I search hard enough) that I’m a good writer. My stories I create deserve to be told and I do love them.
Yet, I’m obviously not agented. My books haven’t been published. Is that because I’m not good enough writing alone? And, even if I do get BLOOD PRICE to publishable quality through my MFA, what if I become agented from it and then am unable to continue to write publishable work?
This, my friends, is the heart of this fear.
Part of me believes it’s a foolish fear to have. Because, at the end of the day, even with my current advisor’s guidance, I will be the one doing the work. I’ll be creating the words, editing the story and crafting the solutions, even if based on her feedback. Not to mention that this story is from my own brain, soul and heart to begin with. Plus, if I were to become agented because my story is elevated through this, I’ll be gaining a new partner. One who will hopefully be permanently in my corner, throughout my career. My advisor, no matter how wonderful, will always be temporary. That’s how it’s intended.
Yet, another part of me fears its accuracy. That the reason I haven’t been published yet is because I’m simply not good enough alone; that I can’t see where I fall short and won’t be able to, in a future manuscript.
Logically, I know this to be false (or, at least, not the full picture). As an editor, identifying weak points in a manuscript is a strength that has been complimented by other industry professionals, including some in traditional publishing. Betas and readers have labeled me a strong writer. Yet my anxiety and impostor syndrome are quick to ignore any evidence and focus only on the fear.
I’d love to hear what you think, especially if you’re a writer yourself! Does this fear seem foolish to you or does it have some merit? How would you tackle this, if you were dealing with this anxiety?
For me, I have my first feedback meeting tomorrow with my advisor, over my synopsis and first scene (roughly sevenish pages). I’m honestly trying not to think about it too much because I’m absolutely terrified that she’s going to say it’s the worst thing she’s ever read. Yet, I’m also trying to remind myself a few truths:
- Even if she does, I can edit and improve
- Her opinion is just one and writing is subjective
- This type of mentorship is the entire reason I’m in this program. Not everyone has access to this. Cherish it.
So, wish me luck, friends! I need it. 😅