In advertising, successes—in concept, in execution—are measured one day, one assignment at a time. The plot, so to speak, is made up of the skills required by the medium (creating an ad is vastly different from, say, a brochure or a direct mail piece or a TV spot), a knowledge of the customer and of the goals of the client.
In fiction writing, successes are hard-won, in fragments: a propelling idea, a development of character, an emotional logic. Advertising is a page. A novel is a wayyyyyy bigger thing. In advertising, the feedback is immediate. In fiction, the feedback is, for a long time, largely your own.
It’s a tough adjustment to make. Especially when you are betrayed by the traitor-brain inside.
The issue of self-trust came up in eSalon last week. It’s not a demon that’s attacking me at—at least, not at the moment…but it is one that I have spent a lot of time considering in the umpty-many days of work past.
We invest in every page what we believe to be the best of ourselves. We work hard at it. We give each paragraph the best of our experience and our judgment. We carry the work’s demands and conundrums from the day into our sleep-time. And sometimes, the light of day is not kind to us.
Seems as if the “what the hell was I thinking” moments are more plentiful—and more powerful, to be sure—than the “geez that’s not bad” ones. Sometimes, by dawn’s early light, middle-of-the-night brilliance turns out to be no better than a scribbled grocery list. We turn our own carriages into pumpkins; we do it without anybody’s help but our own.
What is it in us that lets us believe that a day’s writing is fine—even better than fine…then makes that same work seem sour and false the next? What is it in us that turns towering ideas stupid and small? What changed, from yesterday to today? What made everything seem so right yesterday and so shitty now? What happened?
Is self-trust to be trusted? Is vision?
Now remember, I am not speaking of my own situation—at least not today (check in later.) But I’m all too aware of the feeling…even if I don’t know why it happens or what to do about it. Considering the emotional jeopardy of being unable to trust the self between one day and the next, it’s an answer I’d really like to have.
P.S. To all of you who keep coming back here day after day, to those who’ve subscribed, to those who take the time to leave comments…thank you you mean more to me than I can tell you. And I promise to be a better eFriend and come to visit you in return, as soon as the writing lets me do that. Again, xo.