Sunday, January 15, 2012

That old familiar fear...

In my quest to finish SERA, my wip, I have decided to fully reread everything I've written for it to date. This includes my handwritten notes and chapters, each chapter on my laptop, and all the outlines I've drawn up to date.
When I started writing SERA, I decided to create each chapter as a separate word doc, so that when I want to navigate through the story I'm not dealing with 300 pages to sift through. This has been extremely helpful, not only in the drafting stage, because placement of each of the plot points is much easier to visualize for me; but also will hopefully be helpful in the revising stage, as I will be able to look at each chapter individually, moving them around within the full text as needed with no more effort than a change in the table of contents.

As I began my first real read-through of all the chapters in order (which is a totally different experience than reading them piecemeal - an effort for which I'm generally rewarded with hours of self-doubt and insecurity), I fell in love all over again. The places came back to me with such intensity, I felt as if I had been travelling away from home for far too long. The characters struck me with their different personalities; some I hadn't really though of in months were there on the page and in my mind's eye: beautiful, weak, hateful, disgusting, powerful.

I read and felt a sense of both wonder and pride that, although I am faced with mountains of revision and I am nowhere near ready for the much-needed edit, I created this world and these people. It amazed and saddened me that these characters don't yet exist for anyone but me. The pride lasted precisely three seconds (ok, maybe I'm ballparking it, but still it wasn't very long) before the fear took over. I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach and my hands started sweating.

That old familiar fear, the paralyzing, creativity-sapping fear that no one will ever read my story, or love my characters or feel about this as much as I do took over. I went from euphoric creator to doubt-riddled writer in three seconds.

Do you ever feel that old, familiar fear?


  1. Now I just fear they won't like it when they do read it.
    Interesting you keep your manuscript separated by chapters. Mine is always one big document and I don't even divide it into chapters until the edits are all done. Yes, odd I know!

  2. Not sure that it's comforting to think that this feeling will never really go away...
    The first time I tried to write a full novel, I didn't plan to have chapters until the end. Eventually I realized that I had created a mishmash of barely related tangents.
    I saw then that I would need to separate my story elements into chapters if I wanted to have any sense of organization.
    If I may ask, how do you decide where to separate your chapters? Do you then add in catchy phrases authors rely on to heighten the tension between scenes? (I'm nosy when it comes to others' methods/rituals.)

  3. I'm about to embark on a reread of my WIP so I can begin editing. I was dreading it but you've got me excited now.
    I don't know if I have that same fear you described, but I still get overwhelmed by the size of the story and how I'm going to pull it all together. Happens every time.