Today I sent off my proposal for book two. I’ve spent a long time working out the plot lines, but still it seems that something is missing. My agent is not quite satisfied and I know he has a point, but I’m not sure what to do about it. We’re hoping my editor can put her finger on the weak spots and help me improve them.
I must say that I find it incredibly difficult to work out the subtleties ahead of time. I’m usually four revisions in before I figure out what the hell I’m writing about, or am able to articulate why certain things matter and others don’t. I’m just messy that way, a messy thinker. I’ve got notebooks and scraps of paper, pages on my laptop and all over my desk, my abandoned index cards and a composition book half-full of sloppy work I suspect I wrote when drunk.
I’m in full avoidance mode at this point, flailing around, which August says is something he does when he’s not confident about the story. Definitely, I’m not confident about the story. I’m never confident about the story, or about much of anything else for that matter. Confidence is one of those fleeting emotions, like joy or bone-deep fear, that sweeps over me in an shivery rush, then subsides as if it had never been. It’s untrustworthy and tends to lead me in the wrong direction, like that time I thought I’d sell insurance for a living, because I aced the tests and had a new wardrobe of pinstriped slacks and shiny belts, and earrings made from silvered leaves—only to realize I’d have to ride shotgun to some cowboy Mormon dude who grinned and leered and wondered aloud if it would be possible for us to get a room. Gust of confidence, blown away.
I’ve learned to write without confidence, with something I can only call belief. There is a story here. Whether I can tell it, I don’t know, but I believe I see a story and that’s all there is for now.
Are you confident about your work?