Writer’s Doubt Category Archive

I Was Not Born A Writer

I have heard it said, “I was a writer from the start,” but that was not me. I was not born knowing how to put words to my thoughts or how to take those words from my mouth and place them on the page. I was not born understanding the characters dancing in my head or the worlds that needed building. I was not born knowing how to cultivate a storyteller’s touch or with the drive to wade through the world of publishing.

I was not born with the knowledge of the Hero’s Journey or the necessity of a
Beginning

Middle

and End.

I was not born knowing how to bring a character to life, how to give them emotion, how to make a reader feel what my characters experience, or how to make them seem just as three-dimensional as a true-living-breathing person.

I was not born knowing how to understand my five senses and use words to describe them. I was not born knowing the dynamic simple sentence or how to string a complex sentence together. I did not know the difference between the word “red” and “amaranth”, “sad” and “doleful”, “smell” and “reek”, or “hug” and “cradle”. I was not born knowing there are words that carry power, that stick in a reader’s memory like tacky glue or molasses or silly putty or sweat.

I was not born knowing the importance of a comma, the necessity of a period, the gift of quotation marks, or the beauty of an em dash. Punctuation can carry as much power as a word. I was not born knowing that truth.

I was not born knowing that readers need to laugh and cry (often at the same time). Or that readers need to root for their characters. Or that readers need characters with flaws. Need characters full of flaws. Characters that have flaws and yet, they still rise. They rise and conquer. They conquer, despite those flaws. I was not born knowing that characters need to save themselves or save others or are saved because of their flaws.

I was not born knowing how to create rhythm or prose that speaks. I was not born knowing how to draft and edit or knowing the difference between pantsing and plotting. I was not born with thick skin.

I was not born a writer.

But.

But I was born a creature of industry. I was born with the ability to establish habits, particularly the habit of working hard and steadily. I was born with the desire to practice and read, practice and read, practice and read. I was born with an internal need to experience the world fully, to know the stories of fellow men, to understand the lives of the people who have come before me. I was born with the need to interact with others intimately and with the beautiful world around us—to make connections, to research and learn and learn and learn.

I was born with an imagination. I was born with a powerful brain. I was born with a subconscious that works overtime when I sleep and dream.

I was born with each of the tools needed to place the stories I brainstorm on paper.

I was born with the capacity to become.

Four years ago today, I was in a car accident that changed my life and set me on the path to write my first book, which led to the second, the third, the fourth, fifth, sixth and on.

I was not born a writer.

But it is what I am.

I Am Not J.K. Rowling

This is a conversation I had with Cale after we saw the last HP movie this afternoon. I hope it makes you guys feel better, like it did me.

Juliana: I feel a bit melancholy now that Harry Potter is over.

Cale: So do I.

Juliana: Is it bad if I’m a little depressed to know that I’ll probably never write a book like Harry Potter.

Cale: No, I knew that I’d never play like Zinadine Zidane but I could play like Roy Keane. I could be a grinder and work my ass off. I could play with passion and get stuck in. You may not be JK Rowling but you can still be a great author who writes great books.

Juliana: :)

Zidane is one of the best players to play the beautiful game and J.K. Rowling is one of the best writers to come along, but there have to be other players and writers who make up the rest of the field, and honestly, I’m okay with being one of those other writers. I’m thankful I live in a time when I am able to read Rowling’s genius and even more thankful that I can write the stories that I have in me. I hope you all are too!

* As a note, Cale played soccer in college and the PDL (semi-pro) but was forced out due to injuries, so he does know what he’s talking about. He is a constant source of support as I try to get into the writing business since he can relate with his soccer experiences.

Tears of Writerly Sorrow

I haven’t cried while reading since “Where the Red Fern Grows” in elementary school, but “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” had me all sorts of teary.  I read some reviews of “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” and realize not everyone enjoyed it, but I loved the writing, characters, plot, the whole shebang.

After finishing the book and setting it on my nightstand, I curled up in bed and tried to sleep.  Eyes puffy and headache coming on, all I could think was, I want to write like that.  I want to move someone to tears and outright laughter.  I want to take people away to another world so that they can’t put the book down until they’ve reached the end.  My next thought was, I have so much more work to do! And that’s when the tears started again.

Ugh.

I laid there feeling all sorry for myself and as the first tear dripped down my nose, Pre jumped on my head.

Seriously.

She went to the side of the bed, aimed her little body, and jumped, landing with her sharp claws straight on my closed eye and forhead.

Cale thought it was hilarious.  I didn’t.  But, reality check!  Writing a novel isn’t about writing, it’s about rewriting.  Yes, I have a ridiculous amount of work still to do, but that’s the deal I’ve gotten myself into.

So, thanks Pre for jumping on my head and making me stop feeling all lousy.  Dogs are the best.

(As a side note, I realized today I have the habit of writing dialogue backwards.  Usually I know how the conversation will end, so I write that first and then go from there.  Is that weird? Hmm)

(And as another side note, I’m in the midst of putting together a crit group for YA fantasy – or something along those lines.  I have two wonderful ladies who are interested and there’s room for a couple more.  If you’re interested, let me know. :) )

Do You Doubt?

I have the best support system any girl could ask for.  I have an amazing boyfriend who gives me all the quiet time I need to write and is there to bounce ideas off of.  I have a Mom and Dad who are always willing to edit and read draft after draft of work.  I have a sister who is excited to be a part of my work.  And I have two dogs who sleep beside me while I write and keep me company.  These are my main supporters in my path to being a writer, along with friends, cousins, aunts, and grandparents.  All of these people are great at critiquing my work and not letting me think I am better than what I am, but at the same time they let me know I am not chasing after a dream I have no talent for.

If I know I am talented, have the dedication to work hard, and the willingness to learn, then why do I still doubt myself?

Occasionally, I doubt my ideas aren’t creative or that what I find interesting no one else will.  A lot of the time, I doubt my knowledge of grammar and punctuation.  Sometimes, I doubt that no matter how hard I work and how much I love what I do that no one, outside my circle of supporters, will respond to my work.  Most of the time, I doubt my writing, that when placed next to others it will fall far short.

There are two ways I can respond to doubt: one, I can stop writing and keep my stories in my head, and two, I can acknowledge my doubt and continue to work hard.

While reading other paragraph entries on Nathan Bransford’s blog, I was intimidated by many submissions and I definitely questioned how mine looked up against theirs.  I think this is great though because the only way I will improve is by reading and learning from others.

What’s especially cool about posting on Nathan’s blog is that TWO people liked mine.  Not ZERO, but TWO!!!  How cool is that?!  I know it’s not ten, or twenty, or a hundred who said something, but I was thrilled that both Patti and Sophia responded to my post.  Thank you both.

I believe all artists doubt, perhaps all people in all areas of work doubt their abilities.  The only way I want to respond to my own doubt is to push them aside and continue to work.  Doubting myself will only make me write…err, work harder.