Self-doubt and Jealousy Strikes Again

I think everyone goes through these bouts when the Green-Eyed Monster and his cousin, Self-Doubt, come to town and refuse to leave. I certainly do, and on this journey toward publication, this isn’t the first time either.

Back in March, I had a bad case of it (something I wrote about here). At the time, it was brought on by a client who had gotten a publishing contract and was so excited about it. They thanked me profusely because they honestly believed that it was my feedback that helped them to shape their manuscript into that sparkling gem that was accepted for publication. As the editor, it felt great. As the writer…

The Green-Eyed Monster had snuck up behind me and clobbered me over the head. Why couldn’t that be me? Then I remembered… I was still editing my own manuscript and hadn’t actually submitted it anywhere.

Then Self-Doubt grabbed me by the throat so I could hardly breathe. Do I really have what it takes to make it as a published writer? What if I’m a fantastic editor, but my writing is the worst dribble that anyone has ever read?

While similar questions still float around in my head, in my recent bout of Self-Doubt, others have come to the surface that actually make me cry. What if someone sees the word count of my manuscript (which is higher than 100K words, but not overly so, at least not in my opinion) but says that debut writers need to be under 100K, end of story, so it’s not only a NO, but a HELL NO?

And you know what… It is that question, and that question alone, that has halted my progress in my submissions to agents/publishers. You see so many articles that say debut writers should be under 100K words. I’ve tried. I’ve removed characters, scenes, whole sub-plots and have whittled that manuscript down as far as I can. I honestly feel that if I remove anymore then the story won’t make sense. How one would make that story below 100K words completely eludes me. I don’t think it’s possible.

So I gave up trying. Instead, I turned my focus on making the writing so stellar that it won’t matter that it’s more than 100K. At least, that’s the plan.

But I still haven’t queried. Self-doubt about that number has crippled me beyond belief. Meanwhile, my clients are continuing to get offers of contract or going on to self-publication, getting their stories out there. And me…

My latest bout of self-doubt was actually brought on by PitchWars. On August 3, the submission window for 2016 opens. I will be submitting. I NEED to move past this 100K wall and actually get my manuscript out there. If I get in, I’m sure that my mentor will help me find a way to bring that word count down, but how far down? And I have no idea how… However, if I don’t get selected for PitchWars, I have already decided that I’ll be going for broke and submitting to agents. From what I can see, my manuscript is ready. It is only the word count that is holding me back. I have to move past it or the Green-Eyed Monster will replace Self-Doubt again as another one of my clients gets the contract that could have been mine had I actually submitted.

There is a video from Chelsea Handler that was released by Elle Magazine earlier this month. In that video, Chelsea spoke of the green-eyed monster. I have found myself watching that video over and over, trying to drum it into my head. It’s okay to have the feelings that I’m having — jealousy and self-doubt are perfectly natural — but I must never act in such a way that demeans the efforts of others. To paraphrase Chelsea: never blow out someone else’s candle to make mine brighter.

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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2016

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