I'm in the middle of revision. Again. I'm always in the middle of revision, if you want the honest truth: as a fast writer, someone who screams through a first draft and puts stuff like [INSERT DRAMATIC SCENE HERE] in my drafts, the moment I put something down on (figurative) paper, I'm already revising. Really, my writing is, like, 80% revision, and I have no fear of it.
But sometimes, I get tired.
We all do. As I talked about here, it's really important that the author isn't the one to give up on a book before anyone else does, but that's sometimes hard to remember the fifth (or eighth, or tenth) time through a manuscript.
And, on top of being tired, there are the doubts. Because the fifth (or twelfth, or fourteenth) time through the book, there are moments when I look at the book and I think "jesus, this isn't very good."
Unlike weariness with a project--which can be fought through--there's nothing to really do about the doubts. I can push through the tiredness with sheer grit and determination. But doubt? There's no pushing through doubt, because the more I push, the more I think "if this were good, would I have to push this hard? Shouldn't 'good' be easier than this?"
That doesn't make sense, of course, especially not for me, an inveterate reviser. But sense or not, the doubts are there.
This week, though, I read Kristin Cashore's blog post about how she faces her doubts and how she deals with them. This is what she said:
I can see the book as a whole now, and every single day, I struggle with the voices that are telling me it's not going to work, it's going to fail. It isn't about anything. I'm not good enough to pull all the loose ends together. I'll get to the climax and realize that it's a dumb climax. It's a mess and revisions won't solve the problems.And for some reason, even though I don't know Kristin, her words made me feel better, and I think I'm going to make them one of my mottoes.
The good news is that they're just voices, they can't control me, and I'm used to them. ...
You acknowledge the voices, but you write anyway. This faith is performative. I believe in this book.
This faith is performative. I believe in this book.