Confidence. Where does it come from?
I have no idea.
It comes and goes depending on the day. Right now I feel as though the novel I'm working on is great.
Like nothing I have written or read before. Not in a weird way. I mean, it isn't a new genre of writing. The ideas and problems are not new. But then they never really can be. But the characters, the setting, the conflicts, all seem very real and different to me. It's a regular, realistic novel about three kids whose lives are forever entangled one night after a serious of poor decisions are made.
Now, no one else has seen this book. I'm not generally delicate with criticism of early writes. I have, however, mostly stopped reading reviews. I especially have stopped reading reviews on Amazon and goodreads and such because the good will never outweigh the bad. Sure, the good reviews may stack up. But then one person is going to say something slightly off, and I will cling to that.
This is not unique either.
We let strangers form us as artists and it's ridiculous.
I have learned who to trust. But, as an artist, you are always evolving and in evolving, and growing, you have more and more people around you telling you what you should do. How you should do things.
So who do you listen to?
I guess, in the end, you can only listen to yourself. So when young writers come to me and ask how to get published and if I'll read their work, &c. I am often reluctant. I ask how many pieces they have written. Who has read what they have done before. And, finally, what are they looking for from me. Technical ability? Structure? Character? Quality? Honesty? They always say honesty. And I have done my best to be honest without being cruel.
I once had the pleasure of working with Timothy Findley at the Humber School for Writers. Findley was honest.
I recall after he read one piece, a short story written by an older woman about living on a farm, and Findley, in response to this piece, asked her 'Do you have any other hobbies you could put your time into?'
This might not be the way to go about it. But, it was honest. I often suggest to young writers that having another writer read your work is not necessarily the best route. Get someone who reads a lot to read your work. Writers write a lot and an talk endlessly about structure and character and everything else that has to do with the craft. But readers read the story. It works for them, or it doesn't.
Plus, writers can be petty.
Luckily I mostly deal with young writers in my Scriptwriting classes and when I give workshops and I believe that anyone who really really wants to write can put in the time and create something. It's the putting in the time which is often difficult.
And, finally, as I said to a student yesterday in class, the best way to write is to write. She had been thinking a lot about her script, and hadn't written a word. Get going on it. Get things down. And when the reviews finally come in, well, your job is already done.