Despite the fact that it is only Day 3 of National Novel Writing Month, I'm willing to bet that, before the clock strikes midnight tonight, one-tenth of everyone who began with high hopes of meeting their writing goals each day will have missed today's deadline…
And by tomorrow evening, they will have completely given up the ghost on the ideal of writing their book.
Don't let that person be you.
The only one who can defeat you from finishing your novel, then pitching it to an agent who sees its merit and wants to present it to publishers is YOU.
Yes, you heard me: you are your Boogie Man.
Your voice is the one whispering those niggling doubts that anyone will love your characters as much as you do.
No one taunts you more about your quirky sentence structure.
Only you think that your dialogue sucks, and that your plot has nowhere to go.
Do you see a pattern here?
Defeat comes from within.
Well, guess what? So does faith.
If you don't believe wholeheartedly in your book, no agent will, either.
If an agent never sees it, neither will any pub house editor.
And The Book That Never Was will be your greatest personal defeat.
It doesn't have to be.
Writing a book is not easy. Drawing from deep within that fantasy world within your brain and pouring it all out on (digital) paper is a skill that is honed one sentence at a time, and many drafts later.
In time, you will weave those sentences into the tapestry of your great story: one with tightly-woven plot threads that will awe all who have the chance to read it: first your critique partners, then the right agent, then an editor who is just excited about it as you —
And finally, a legion of fans, all of whom will be hungry to read your next book.
My first novel was sold as part of a two-book deal. When I broke this wonderful news to my sister, she was very excited for me, for all of about twenty seconds. Then, in a hushed voice, she asked: “But–they can't make you write another one…can they?”
Make me? Write another book?
Hell yeah, twist my arm…
Because it's what I do.
Whether anyone else believes I can do it or not, I write.
Hey, trust me: I have my own Boogie Man.
He fills me with doubts that the muse will some day kick me to the curb.
He tries to convince me that I'll lose my ability to tweak some real-life situation into a great “what if.”
And that, one day, I'll just not care; that I will give up the need to write, to practice my art.
His stale breath has been wheedling doubts in my ear through three agents, four pub houses, and at least a dozen unsold manuscripts.
In fact, he was there last night, taunting me about a book proposal that went out just yesterday. He wants me to believe that it will be laughed out of every publishing house it's been sent to…
Well, he's wrong.
I may not have a magic force field to keep him out of my life, but I have a silver bullet that stops him dead in his tracks, every time:
I believe in my book.
Just like I've believed in all my books, even when others didn't.
I've now got a body of work to prove it. My books have found avid, appreciative audiences.
Yours will, too.
How about you? Do you believe in your story, your characters, about your vision of a life as a writer?
Then start writing it. Again.
Put those words down on the page. Set a daily goal for yourself, and meet it. Trust me, you won't be writing REDRUM REDRUM REDRUM over and over.
To paraphase Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump, writing is a bowl of cherries.
Now, in a paraphrasical mashup of Mr. Groom and Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather:
Drop the Boogie Man. Take the bowl of cherries.