“At the beginning of my career I worried about it (being a white rapper from Minnesota) a lot. I wanted to make sure that I seemed credible… that I was paying the respect that’s due to the music that was largely innovated by another culture set. And then, ten years in, you worry about, ‘is this song good.,” Dessa told Here & Now’s Robin Young.
Dessa's statment really resonates with my feeling of late about my writing. Perhaps it is because I have released my work on Amazon; or maybe it is that my group of writer friends has expanded exponentially in the last year; whatever the reason, my concern has switched from that of... am I really a writer, to... is what I write good. And with this switch comes a whole new set of worries for me to grapple with.
For one thing... I am suddenly intimidated to write. Even though I have completed three novels, I am suddenly scared the forth one might not be inside me. And, I have some evidence for this... I began a forth novel last January and was really struggling with it. I put it down to revise Betting Jessica and now, although I want to start it again, I am lost. Suddenly, every word seems critical.
When I first started to write my only goal was to actually complete an entire story. I didn't really worry about how good the writing was, I guess I figured I would cross that bridge if I ever actually finished. The only important thing to me, at that point, was not to be the person who worked on the same story for their entire life.
After I finished my novel, (at that point called The Sirens - for no real reason), I decided my next goal would be to simply learn how to edit and revise my own work. Through the help of an editor (and later friend) I set in place methods for editing which I still use today. I practiced these skills on my work, and ended up with a revised version of my novel, now called Betting Jessica.
Every step of my writing career has gone this way, from one learning experience to another, perhaps as a way of not needing to be such a harsh judge of myself. Now, though, as I circle back around, I find that my inner critic has surfaced and I ask myself constantly; am I perfecting what I have already learned?
Perhaps, as in Betting Jessica, when she decides that taking on bets can be a good way to motivate herself, I can look back over my writing history and see that approaching tasks as a learning experience has helped me to let go of the worry and focus instead on the work. If that is true.... I guess my newest lesson needs to be how to be a positive self-critic.
And then I can reframe to question from; is this good to... am I learning?
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Link here to Betting Jessica on Amazon.com