Thursday 12 January 2012

Captain Doubt Moves In With Me

I've finally pressed SEND on my three story ideas and now Captain Doubt is sitting opposite me at the kitchen table as I type this.

I procrastinated and fiddled for three weeks before forcing myself to just send the wretched things.Not just about the ideas themselves (are they cutting-edge and twisty enough? Is there enough conflict to sustain 50k or am I so busy congratulating myself on being smugly original in the story hook that the whole thing will collapse after one chapter?) but also in the presentation (Should I write it like a synopsis? Are bullet points a good idea? Does the editor want a full bio of my hero and heroine? Should I name them? Aaaarghhh!) In the end I settled for something resembling a short synopsis of the story, plus brief details of the conflicts for the hero and heroine.

So now they are GONE. And there's nothing I can do about them except settle in for what I'm sure will be a long wait. Knowing this doesn't stop Captain Doubt whispering in my ear that none of them are a)good enough, b) original enough or c)sparkly/daring/edgy enough.

While I wait for a response from the editor on the story ideas, I debate what to do. Without knowing which (if any! - Captain Doubt) she will choose I don't want to start developing any of them until I hear from her. So I decide to go back and finish Honeymoon, my NV story. I am also waiting  for the editor's response on the first six chapters of this but am convinced by Captain Doubt that there is nothing in them that will change her view that we put Honeymoon to one side for now and work on something new. In fact as I read and get ready to revise Chapter Seven this morning I begin to convince myself that it's rubbish, my characters are developing in fits and starts, the plot is insane and the six chapters I've already sent are puerile nonsense.

I do have an idea where these doubts are coming from - in an effort to up my game I'm trying to read more, specifically RIVAs, so I can try and target what is wanted more effectively. And the quality of some of these stories is just so high and polished. Can I really aspire to reach that standard? I've never been on a writing course, I don't belong to any writing groups, don't have a critique partner and I don't belong to any associations. I have absolutely no experience.

Do I really think I can do this? Captain Doubt has not only dropped in for a brief visit, he's put his suitcase in the spare room and has taken up a chair at my table. He's here for the long haul.


  1. Congratulations on getting your proposals in that's brilliant. Fingers crossed your editor likes them, I am very much hoping she goes with Honeymoon because I really want to read the rest of it.
    There's a lot of doubt and fear around at the moment - the New Year doesn't seem to have inspired optimism - so you are not alone. You are, however, doing brilliantly - a finalist, an editor working with you all without a writing group or a CP. Finding someone to CP with is hard work, and it doesn't work for everyone but of you do ever want someone to bounce ideas off I am sure lots of people would be glad to help, I would.

  2. Self doubt is the worst! And to send your ideas to an editor...yeah, I would be in panic mode. But wow, that editor must be hugely impressed by you to offer to work with you on a book! No surprises there -- you have tons of raw talent. Trust your gut and your own voice -- I adored the chapters you wrote for NV. You're fabulous!

  3. Jessica - thanks so much, I'm finding the most ludicrous part of this self-doubt is that I have so many reasons to be optimistic right now. I didn't have any of this when I was just writing and submitting to slush, but the moment I make progress the fear kicks in.

    Natalie - thank you! I'm going to try and just focus on the writing and shut out the self-questioning. If I believe I'm a one-chapter pony then I'm never going to get past that! Glad to read how well you're doing, I can't wait to read the finished Seven Day Target!