Self-Doubt - Combatting the Crazies in My Head
Updated: Feb 20, 2020
Last week someone posted something in an author Facebook group I’m in. It was a not-mean-spirited mini-rant on a book she read. She noted that the first half of the book was decent spec fic (speculative fiction, meaning sci-fi/fantasy/horror or the like), but the second half of the book descended into a clunky, preachy allegory.
This is a valid concern/problem when dealing with many books written by Christian authors. I don’t like it either. If it progresses the story and just fits, I don’t mind very overt Christianity (Bible verses being read/prayers spoken/salvation discussed), but many times I read a book, and it seems authors only include things to progress their beliefs, which undermines the integrity of the story. It’s agenda-driven. I don’t like ANYTHING agenda driven, even if it supports my own belief system.
The thing is, I have a very real fear that my first book follows this progression. I didn’t intend for “The Worlds Next Door” to be allegorical. I didn’t even recognize that it was until around six months after I’d completed it. I certainly didn’t do it on purpose.
So, when I saw that post in this close-knit author group, I immediately became convinced she was talking about my book. DEFINITELY. This is irrational as she didn’t even say it was a book by someone within the group, and there are literally thousands upon thousands of books by Christian authors she could have been referencing. But rational or no, my brain spiraled into crazy mode.
I thought about it for days. I wanted to message her. I thought of all the things I wanted to say/ask. “I didn’t even mean to MAKE it an allegory; it was accidental! I can’t be blamed!” “It was my first book; I didn’t know what I was doing!” “How was it clunky?” “Where did it become so?” I knew this was all silly and paranoid and would only make things weird, so I didn’t.
Finally, I recentered myself on what I know to be true:
1) My book isn’t perfect and won’t be even if I re-work it from now until doomsday.
2) It’s the book I could write at the time with what I knew.
3) It’s a book I feel God laid on my heart and gave me many revelations that were helpful even in my own life while I was writing it.
4) God can use anything even if it does have clunky allegory. Maybe that’s exactly what someone needs!
5) And LASTLY – she PROBABLY WASN’T EVEN TALKING ABOUT MY BOOK AND I OBSESSED FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER.
I have been able to release this crazy spiral and trust God with my story once again, but I also have a lot more thoughts about my first book. I think it’s a pretty good book. I don’t think it’s the best book, but I’m not embarrassed by it. I look at it now and see all of its flaws and all the ways it could be better. Part of me wants to do a serious re-write. But part of me doesn’t.
Because I sort of want to have my first attempt stand as my first attempt. Your first book is almost never going to be your masterpiece (I know there are exceptions,) and I don’t want to erase my baby steps.
I think your faltering baby steps can be encouraging to those who need it. If an aspiring author reads my second book and loves it (I hope), then reads my first and thinks, “Huh, that one needs more work,” I’d hope it would encourage them that progress is possible – that their first book doesn’t have to be perfection.
And I’m sure two years from now, I’ll look back at “Vincent in Wonderland” and see all of its flaws as well.
Progress over perfection. That’s healthy. If I waited till I thought something was perfect to put it out there, I’d never put anything out into the world at all.
So, my first book might have POV (point-of-view) issues and maybe it does turn into clunky allegory half-way through, I don’t know. But it’s out there and has value despite all its flaws, just like I do. Just like you do.
I won’t let my insecurity take that away.
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