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The Writing Life: No Retreat!

No retreat, not even for writer’s doubt.

Recently a writing friend expressed her doubts about the quality of her writing. Understanding fully what she was going through, I shared the following:

As a writer, I’ve been plagued with WRITER’S BLOCK.
However, I routinely suffer from WRITERS DOUBT.

From reading others, it seems to plague every writer to varying degrees. The nagging question in the back of our head/in the middle of the night: “Is what I’m writing really going to connect with others? Is it treasure or trash?”

I’ve now written six independently published books and have heard those echoing doubts on each one.

It sounds from your email that you’ve heard them too. Here’s my take on your story. I believe my thoughts are pertinent because I’ve been along on your story for over a year now.

Your strong story is filled with intricately written characters. Each one is carefully carved and layered. As I read their thoughts and struggles, I wonder “who” they are in your real life. They seem alive and real. That is good writing.

The plot of your story is multi-layered with each character experiencing it from a different angle. Even the dog has personality. (I promise never to write a book that doesn’t feature at least one dog.)

The only question I would have deals with your genre. Because I’m not an avid “speculative fiction” reader, I cannot fully answer this question: Is your story/story line plausible?

To me, plausibility means: Is it believable? Will the reader want to dig deeper or see the story “as impossible or unlikely?”

Your question is to ask other readers (in this genre):
These questions and answers can help you identify how your story is told.

I did this early on with The Wayfaring Stranger. I put it on my blog and laid it out there for anyone to see. I got much valuable feedback, criticism, bricks, bats, and bouquets.

After filtering though it, I saw ways my story needed updating/tightening to make it believable. The folks who supplied much of this information were readers who loved Louisiana History and historical fiction.

Let me know what you think on my thoughts.

My final answer (sounds like “Slumdog Millionaire) Only you can write this book. It is your book. If you don’t write it, no one will. Write it. Complete it.

Then go on to the other dozen other projects percolating in your mind and heart.
If your WIP (work in progress) is “picked up” that is great.
If it’s not picked up “right now,” keep writing new stuff.

Grisham had written A Time to Kill early on. Only after he became famous with The Firm, etc. did it get “re-released.” I firmly believe it is his best book. He persevered. He finished one project so he could begin another.

Before his first battle as commander of the US Army of the Potomac, General U.S. Grant told his commanders, “Under no circumstances will we retreat.”

The ensuing battle, known as the Battle of the Wilderness, was a Union defeat. As the defeated army prepared for another Virginia retreat, they were startled to receive orders to move forward. They realized this new general had a different way of operating.

Retreat was not an option.
In the writing life, it’s not an option either.

We learn, we grow, we re-load, we shift, and turn.
But retreating—going back to the non-writing risk-free comfortable life is not an option.

Write on.

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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