Perfectionism and lack of confidence team up into a paralyzing combination. At least that is what I've found whenever it comes to writing something beyond a blog post or an assigned essay from school.
I love to write. Ever since I was a kid I've scribbled little secret stories on scraps of paper or tucked the best ones away in my imagination, too precious and fragile to even commit to paper. As a lonely child in the back yard after school as I went about "being good", I'd make up stories constantly: stories about diminutive people or orphans or pioneers or fairies or adventurers. Somewhere out there were lives much more exciting than mine and they were as close as my thoughts.
My Dad talked me into writing a book with him when I was in junior high. He provided the plot involving a time-traveling closet and three friends, while I gave it skin in grammatically correct English. It sits still in a dusty binder on my parents' downstairs mantle.
Yet getting these many stories translated onto paper in a readable form and worse, running the gauntlet of agents and editors and publishers seems terrifying. The idea of rejection slips and stacks of correspondence fills me with dread. Even just finishing one of the stories in my head (I have tons of beginnings here and there) is not something I have been able to successfully accomplish.
Someday I'd love to "be a writer." I'd love to have published books with my name on the cover. Reading Nate Wilson's Dandelion Fire has prodded me onward toward that line of thought, because he lives a few blocks from me. I run into him at Bucer's. If he can do it, living in Nowhere, Idaho with five kids wrapped around his knees, then so can I.
If only confidence could be bottled. Like the can of Guinness I bought for my husband on Super Bowl Sunday, if I could just walk down to WinCo and pick up a can of confidence, preferably refrigerated, and drink it down, then in heady exuberance send my manuscripts off to publishers with full expectation of acceptance, life would be grand. If I could finish those manuscripts, it would be a start. Instead I write maybe six chapters and then over-analyze my poor work into oblivion, the perfectionist in me completely unsatisfied with the many plot holes or the lack of good character development I encounter in my own work.
Of course I'm similarly critical with the writing of others with one notable exception: they finished theirs. And published it. So they have definite bragging rights over me.
What will it take to catapult me into a career as a writer? Do I one day wake up and decide that is what I want to do with the rest of my life? Or do I stick one toe in the water, write a little here and there, send a little test manuscript off to some friendly soul who will write a nice rejection letter instead of a form-letter? I don't know. But someday I would really, really like to find out.