Another creative person told me today that he hates everything he does. This is a guy who consistently finishes what he starts and puts it out there for people to see, and with very few exceptions gets recognition for it. And yet, even with other people telling him it’s awesome – sometimes people who are widely recognized themselves – he hates everything he does.
I generally feel the same. Makes me wonder if any of us ever really likes what we produce.
There is usually a point during the creation of a story where I like it, because it’s not done yet. I know what I want it to be, and it still has the potential to become that. The closer I get to done, though, the less I can see on the page of what was in my head, and I am reminded of my very limited grasp of the craft, of my failings, and I despair of it ever being good enough to see the light of day.
Like this story I’ve been working on. I am totally in love with the idea, and there are parts of what I’ve written that I really like – but I’m finding that as the story evolves a lot of those pieces need to be excised because they are not consistent with the story anymore. So, out they go. And as the story becomes more cohesive, it gets a little less romantic and fantastical, a little farther from the original vision in my head. But I don’t know how to execute the original vision; I do not have the skill.
It is getting very close to done, or at least complete, or so I keep thinking – and I can no longer see it through infatuated eyes. I can only see the missed beats, the stodgy writing, the plot holes, the inconsistencies. The only thing I can say I still love about it is the title, but that will probably change soon, too. By the time I have taken it apart, put it back together, and got it ready to submit, I will hate it. I will second-guess the wisdom of sending it out. I will think that it needs to sit in a drawer for a year and then maybe some day I will have learned how to do it right, and I will give it the treatment it deserves.
I have five manuscripts out for submission right now. If I don’t think about them, I’m okay. If I treat the rejections like paperwork – into the In Box, turn it around and put it in the Out Box – it’s fine. If I go and read them, I cringe. I want to take them all back and never let anyone see them. I ask myself what made me ever think I could write, and I consider giving up.
Another friend helpfully reminded me that I don’t have to love my stories.
“You only need to LIKE them enough to finish them.”
Soon it will be time for the mind-games, the self-trickery into just accepting that I’m not going to be able to make it any better right now. It will be time to come to terms with the fact that even though I hate it, I have to submit it; I have to make the Hail Mary pass and know that once it’s out of my hands, it is really out of my hands. I will remind myself that I lose nothing by trying, and everything by giving up.