As I’ve gathered my writing together from the past five years in order to decide what to use for my twenty page writing sample, I’ve suffered a little crisis of faith in my writing ability. I’ve had quite a few people over the years tell me that my writing is good, that they couldn’t put down what they were reading and that they couldn’t wait to read more. Why is it so hard to internalize that and believe that I have something to offer?
I found myself wondering if I had anything good enough to even be considered for a fellowship? Perhaps I should just focus on finding some classes and learning more about writing before I bothered to seriously write something again? Was I wasting my time?
I gathered together the files of what I’d worked on over the last five years. I decided to simply try to read them as if they were someone else’s writing and pick the best of what I had to use as my sample. I opened the file of my favorite concept. It’s a novel about a young woman and her family in a post WWIII, post pandemic, world. I was surprised to see that I already had 95 pages. (I hadn’t worked on it since I started my new job, about 10 months ago.) I started reading and realized… gee, this is pretty good! Oh, it’s not great literature, but it IS a really good story. It definitely needs work but there’s something there, something worth pursuing.
It’s easy to get down on ourselves, to listen to the negative voices in our heads, the messages that we’ve internalized which say we can’t make a living writing fiction. The truth is that anything is possible. We’re all exceptions to the rule, sometime and somewhere in our life. Decide what you want, have faith in yourself, then decide how you’re going to go about getting it.