Nobody Asked for This

Tumblr Post #14 (April 2017)

So I’ve been in a weird place for the past few weeks regarding my relationship with this novel. If I had to describe this place, it’d have to be somewhere between questioning my abilities and credentials as a writer and questioning why this story is even being written in the first place. It’s not a comfortable place to be in. And I don’t know if this is normal of writers or if I should truly reconsider why I am actively putting myself through this.

The other day, I made the mistake of reading the bios of other Black women authors who have been on New York Times Bestsellers lists, have won National Book Awards and have, above all else, had their books read by the great Oprah Winfrey herself. These writers have all the degrees in Creative Writing, English, African-American Studies, etc. from the likes of Stanford, Harvard, Yale, you name it!

They know people.

People know them.

And their talent is undeniable.

Then there’s me. A relative unknown who has the crazy idea that she too can participate in the same industry with these giants of women. Where are my credentials? What argument can I put forward to get this industry to take me seriously beside my belief that storytelling is what I was meant to do? The only things that can attest to my skills as a writer is this blog, college professors, and the select pairs of eyes who are reading my rough draft.

Let me go on the record to say that I know that what I’m talking about is futile. I know I am a good writer. And I know that accolades and credentials aren’t everything. Writing for attention isn’t the only thing that should keep me going. However, knowing these things don’t stop me from having feelings of inadequacy. In fact, stopping myself from feeling them can do more harm than good. So, I must allow myself to go through the motions.

Nobody said that writing a novel would be easy. I’m sure that the giants that I’ve glamorized in my head have their doubts as well. And those doubts are probably amplified by the heightened recognition and expectations to perform. I don’t know what it is that keeps us going.

Perhaps the gratification of finishing and publishing keeps the giants motivated to write more. Or maybe the recognition by others has reassured them that what they’re doing is not all in vein.

But what about me? I don’t have the promise of a book deal or a tour to keep me from giving up on this novel. All my motivation must come from within. And to be honest, I’m not feeling very motivated right now. On top of that, I don’t even know if this story is one that anyone would want to read. Nobody asked for this after all. No one is putting a gun to my head and forcing me to write a novel or die by the bullet.

I’m doing this to myself. I’m making myself go through the emotional roller coaster of writing a novel; of telling this story. Because for some reason, beyond all the doubt and feelings of inadequacy, I still believe that I would suffer more if I didn’t tell this story.

And perhaps that is what keeps me motivated.

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