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But What If I Suck?

I have to admit it, I have stuck my toe into a much bigger pond and I am daunted. I have two pro-sale stories due in the coming months. These are the two big things I will be working on along with my next RPG supplement.

One pro-sale story is "on spec" which means I'm not part of the original group of invitees but I pitched something to the editor anyway and she liked it enough to say, "Write it. If I like it and it fits and I have room, I'll buy it." The other is pro-sale story invite that is "you are invited, you make it in, and it better be damn good." In both cases, these stories will be going to people I very much admire and respect. It is what kept me up last night asking my husband, "But what if I suck?"

As an aside, my husband is awesome.

"But what if I suck?"

"You don't suck."

"You're not just saying that because you're my husband?"

"No, I'm saying that as a reader of your stuff who didn't want to pay attention to you because I was so engrossed in what I was reading…your stuff."

I digress.

I pride myself on the challenges that I have already taken on and succeeded at. I have worked hard to get to where I am. I have worked hard to get the opportunities I have before me. But, now that they are before me, I admit to being scared. I have the "imposter's syndrome" going on. I have the sweaty palms of a teenager in love. The racing heart, too. What if they don't like it? What if they think I'm a hack? What if…?

All I can do right now is suck it up, look at those fears, acknowledge they are here and then put them aside. I have work to do. And I will do the best that I can. Then I will turn the story loose on my 1st Round Readers and hope I have hit the mark. Then I will polish each within an inch of its life and turn it in. That is all I can do.

And after the email is sent, after the work is done, then I can go back to my fears and let them wash over me again.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC)
True story -- I recently received an anthology invite from an editor I like, but had a little trouble coming up with a story for the theme. I eventually decided to go in a strange direction, and started writing a story I wasn't sure I could pull off. It was different, it was outside of my comfort zone, and I kept asking "But what if it sucks???"

The editor apparently decided it was cool, and just asked me to do what should be a pretty quick rewrite.

If the story had sucked? Well, I'm guessing and assuming I would have gotten a rejection. That would have sucked too, but it happens. I've gotten rejected from these invite-only projects before, and it hurts, but it's not the end of the career. It wasn't even the end of my relationship with the editors in question.

Not entirely sure what my point was here, except that I think what you're describing is absolutely normal, no matter where you are on the food chain.

And I think the fact that you worry is also something that will push you to make the story even better.

Good luck!
Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
This is a very familiar story.

Thank you.
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Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Dylan. I know you know what I'm going through. A lot of authors do.
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Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
Yep. Without going into details, I've seen some projects with stories where the authors seemed to know they were "good enough," and others weren't sure. The latter tended to write better stories.
Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
Nope you won't suck. In fact, you are going to blow them out of the water! Don't worry about the future, just get those stories written. Worry about them AFTER you have them sent off.
Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC)
Requirement for marrying (or staying married to) a writer:

The patience to endlessly repeat "You don't suck." I think this is even more exasperating than the classic "Does this make me look fat?"

Dec. 2nd, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
Well, if you marry a writer, you know they can be neurotic and a little crazy. Along with the "You don't suck" mantra, you have to be ready for the author spouse to come bursting into the room you are in to excitedly tell you about something a character did that you did not expect. And then understand when authors talk about minor characters trying to take over a story...as if they could (and do) muntiny.
Dec. 2nd, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
I love the fact you posted this. You are an example of a writer who is both talented and professional - and it's comforting in a way to see that you feel that way, too!

Just for the record: you don't suck!
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Dec. 2nd, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
I interrupted my hunnybun practicing his guitar just so I could read to him the conversation between you and your hunnybun, and we both laughed. Those words could have come out of our mouths.

Hey, if he believes in you, you do write well. That's what I keep telling myself anyway. :)
Dec. 2nd, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
I so totally know that feeling. You spend years an unknown, honing what you do until you feel like you are pretty good at it, and then you have to step up and actually be good on cue...it's intimidating. Because being told "you suck" at this stage goes a long way towards invalidating what you have spent a lot of years working on - you ability to write well.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
You, very much, don't suck.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 05:00 am (UTC)
You'll be great! And you're doing far more than most people ever would: you're TRYING. And when you fail, yo get back up and try again. That's commendable. And wonderful.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )