Doubt is the mind killer just like its cousin, fear. In the past, I hated the idea of someone judging my writing. The flaws stuck out and tormented me. There was no way it could be as good as others’ work, or so I thought. I always saw images in my head like a film playing out behind my eyeballs. I used to want to make movies. I quickly learned that I did not have the resources (money and equipment) to make the desire a reality. I put it all away and life went on until an opportunity came along to make a short film with a camcorder and pure will. Strangely enough, it got me writing again.
Doubt stayed on the sidelines until I finished my first novella, Where the Road Roams. The dark feeling honestly did not manifest itself until I had to share my work with strangers. The worst critic is the one inside. I pigeonholed my work as gay, feeling an unease that was more personal than I gave it credit. Sharing creative work is like sharing a part of yourself. I realized that I was judging myself like I had years ago before I came out. An inner voice told me I was not good enough, not normal, so softly as I reacted to it without thought of consequence. I shook it off and put the work out there.
When I submitted my second novella, The Wild Boys (a part of my later peculiar western novel), I felt I could only send it to gay publishers and locked myself into romance which my work really was not. Books that followed, The Trouble with Furries and Escape from Dolphin Street, were written in a niche. The gay angle is just an angle, one part of a larger canvas of punk fiction. I doubted myself and had to learn not to make that aspect a big deal. Once I retained my rights and self-published, I modified my previous books into better versions and am happy with the iterations that exist now. Stories have to live and not be caught in the trap of constant revision. It is hard thing to balance.
Forward I write, one step, one word, one rejection after another until a book finds a home. I fight doubt. I go forward and let the creative process take me away into new realms. My writing has gotten better over time. If I would have listened to the dark voices and succumbed to the imagined will of the world, I would never have continued. Writing must live in the time it is written and may never be perfect. I have learned to let go and grow to leave doubt behind whenever it whispers in my ear.
The next wave is coming with Lane Bowden 1973 and my personal and different Rebel’s Edge books. I will keep you posted on those and my next journey as I dive into writing a new novel this summer.