From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How do I know I don't suck?

Guys, it's one of those times. I know the key is persistence, and that hard work will eventually bring you sure success. I believe that.

But it's just been soooo looong

I need to just be whiny and self-indulgent today, if that's okay with you guys. You know how I feel, right? I have had this novel done for a while. I've been querying it for a while. Heck, I've been querying some of my short stories since I was a freshman in college. But the rejections keep piling in, and it feels like I have so little to show for all the effort.

I think my perspective is probably skewed here, and it probably isn't nearly as long, comparably, as it feels. Other writers much awesome than I have had to wait a lot longer than this for their success. Everybody has to put in the hours, that's just the way of it.

But after a while, the lack of success starts to wear on you and you start fearing that your book actually totally sucks, that you can't write, that you're a hack. I've been feeling like that lately. If my book was any good, shouldn't it have found success already? Part of me knows that's ridiculous, I mean, The Help, a completely fabulous  book, was submitted to fifty agents before it got accepted. That sort of helps, but it doesn't make me want to just be published already any less.

Rushing things is not a good idea either, I know that. If I really do suck then I definitely don't want to be out there until I suck less. On the other hand, I do believe in my characters and my story and I want them to be out in the world. But also, it's impossible to be objective about your own work, and what if you just suck?

Anyway. The thing to do when feeling this way is to do your best work on your current project, and that's what I'm trying to do. Hopefully it will just make success, when it does come, all the sweeter.

What do you do when confronted with these thoughts?

Sarah Allen


  1. As you say, get on with whatever you're working on. As for the novel, have you had mainly printed slips or some personal letters? Personal letters are special. They tell you you're nearly there.

    And remember, whatever you have had, only writers get rejection slips. You're a writer. You are leagues ahead of the guys who say, "I have this great idea for a story, but I haven't time, maybe when I retire..." and bore you silly with their great idea.

    I'm a writer too and I can prove it with a roomful of rejection slips! ;)

  2. Hey, we all feel this time to time. Eat some nice ice cream. It makes everything better.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  3. I find it amazing how those feelings can change even from day-to-day with my writing. I'm on top of the world with success and then positive I made a HUGE mistake with my life when the writing won't come or I get smacked with a rejection.

  4. I feel these feelings EVERY DAY. Every day! And it's such an up and down thing. It's why most writers quit. I think the best thing I've done is to accept the down moments--to let it be a part of me. Because I know when I'm down, it's fired me to work harder.

    Sometimes it feels like we're in a dark tunnel we will NEVER get out of... but when we just keep working regardless of dark we feel, very slowly a light comes. We can always improve. Read other books. Take notes of how they did it. Read self help books. Start a new project---especially while you're querying! I think the best thing we can do is look forward and keep pushing. :-)

    I'm with you, Sarah!

  5. You are allowed to feel this way - join the club! You just need to find an outlet to help you get over it.
    Mine is old movies. Scientific writing was never so hard with rejections, so it was a new world when I started to write fiction. Hang in there, have a pissy day and pick up the pen tomorrow!

  6. I just have to say that you do NOT suck. And I can say that because I've read your work.

    Also, I do not feel the same way you do...but maybe that's because I haven't yet finished a novel to my liking and have not begun the querying process.

  7. You do not suck. All writers feel this way, but the beautiful thing is that it can change in a day. Our feelings vacillate so much during this stage. Hang in there. I'm sending hugs & good thoughts your way.

  8. You guys are wonderful. You make me feel so much better about life, and so much less alone. Thank you!

  9. It sounds like you need to get someone to read your novel - not necessarily an official beta read or anything, but just a friend who likes to read. (The 'likes to read' bit is important, because they'll be comparing your book to published books automatically.)

    If they read quickly you'll have some feedback within the week. Then the wait for agent replies won't be so long.

    Yes, it can take a long time for the right agent to find you. Yes, lots of very famous books/authors waited for longer. No, that doesn't make any difference when you're waiting for an email/letter.

    Good luck!

  10. I think once you experience these feeling often enough, and come through the other side, it becomes obvious it's a cycle that will come and go. Ride it out (until the next time).


  11. It's tough when those moods hit, and I can relate 'cause I go through them on weekly basis. Sometimes though, it's just a matter of latching onto a compliment from a writer you respect who happens to read something that you wrote, or even something that you blogged, and building from there.

  12. Diet Dr. Pepper and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups keep me afloat. When I used to act, the rule of thumb was one call back in 20 auditions was doing well. I keep that number in the back of my mind when querying.


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