I am too a fiction writer! (So there, Self-doubt Demon!)

by Nancy Christie on February 29, 2012

in fiction, writing process

One of my fantasies is to have a house large enough for a separate area where I could not only do my own writing (instead of in this converted bedroom I currently use) but also hold writing workshops or invite visiting authors and writers to give presentations. I have even seen the house I wanted. It’s near Lake Erie—a two-story structure that has a section jutting out into the backyard overlooking the lake. There are long windows on all three sides, giving a perfect view of nature. It’s the ideal spot for creative work.

I want that house. I dream about that house. But more than the house itself, I want that kind of space—something that says “This is where a writer lives.”

Which leads me to the next point: what kind of writer lives in that house? Who will I be if I had that house? More importantly, who am I now, writerly speaking, and what are my goals?

While I make my living as a magazine and corporate writer (after all, the money has to come in from somewhere!), my writing goal has always been to achieve success in fiction. And for awhile, it seemed I was on the right path. I made time for writing short stories, and even had a few pieces published in literary magazines. Then, I stopped. Cold. Why? Well, I could blame it on my work schedule or family obligations but the bottom line is, I stopped because I was afraid. I would sit down to write and nothing would be there. I’d turn the key (figuratively speaking) and the engine wouldn’t catch fire. Pretty soon, I avoided the attempt altogether because I didn’t want to face failure. I was successful in my other writing life but as a fiction writer, I was very much afraid I had reach “has-been” status without ever attaining success.

Then, as I have detailed in an earlier post, events pushed me into writing fiction again. Now, while my schedule is not as consistent as I would like and while I have as yet been unable to find representation for my first novel, I am still committed to writing fiction. For now, I have vanquished the Self-Doubt Demon who would whisper in my ear, “You’re no [name of whatever famous writer I was reading at the time]. You are just somebody who thinks she can write.”

I have learned (and have had to re-learn) that for me, fiction writing isn’t about being better than the other writers out there, but about giving voice to the voiceless—all those characters who are wandering in the wilderness, just waiting for someone to find them and lead them home to the page. And when I get them there, they talk to me. I don’t put words in their mouths but only write down the words that come out of theirs.

And when I do that, I know that I am doing what I was meant to do, writing what I was meant to write. This is not to say that, at some point, I won’t let fear get the better of me again. But I hope that, when it does, I can find my way over, around or through it and get back to the writer I want to be, writing the kind of pieces that I want to write, living the writing life that is right for me.

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