This house under construction is how my work feels right now…good things on the horizon.
One of the things that I promised in this newsletter was inspiring conversations and I have them coming up with architects, writers, actors, podcasters, musicians, photographers and more. But truth be told the biggest conversation I am having lately, is the one with all the critics and cheerleaders in my own head. I’m in the throes of reworking my next novel. Is it my third? My fourth? My fifth? Hard to tell. When do you start counting? All the same doubts and struggles are resurfacing, making me wonder—can I do this? Is it any good? Should I even bother? As if I haven’t been here before.
My first novel is the one that made me believe I could be a writer. I did it. Whether or not it was any good or was going to be published, there was no denying I had done written an entire novel. It also got me agent interest. I tested the waters with it, but then decided that Mothers and Other Strangers should be my debut and focused on that instead. So that other novel is now affectionately thought of as The Starter Novel. Mothers and Other Strangers was my debut, which makes The Wise Women my second novel—except in between I wrote something darker and leaner with a male protagonist, and while it got agent interest it didn’t find one. But it did spur me on to write something completely different—The Wise Women. I needed to get that darker, twisty story out, before I could find my way clear to write the story I wanted to read, which was something heartfelt with mothers and daughters, full of love and humor and hope.
So that makes this current novel I am working on my fifth, and what I hope will be my third published. And yet, the same personal challenges, the same crisis of faith, internal conversations about the merits of the work persist. It’s the same roller coaster of excitement plunging into doubt and feelings of defeat, cheered into perspective, buoyed by experience, and cresting with clarity back at the top of the ride when that aha moment kicks in—I know this cycle, it’s just a cycle, I can do this! This time around I’m happy to report, these conversations happen faster. I’ve had them before, so in some ways they feel less personal, even though the stakes are higher. But I’m older now, and wiser, and I know that this is just part of the process. I also know that every writer goes through this and that the only way to move past the doubts and worries and frustrations, is to work. So I’m working. It always comes back to the work. I’ve learned that doing the work—whatever the work—is the one thing those terrible inner critics hate. Because those assholes, they’re all talk.