On Self Doubt

This past Sunday I curled up on my couch to watch The Golden Globes. I always seemed to miss The Golden Globes in the past, and just read about them online or in the paper after the fact. So I was pretty excited that I knew when they were this year. I also seemed to be more invested in them than in years past, because of the current Les Mis obsession I am going through (mentioned here). I was also hit pretty badly with the flu this weekend which left me asleep in bed for about two days straight, so watching The Golden Globes gave me something to do. I am feeling much better now, thanks, and I am happy to say that Les Mis came out on top with both Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman winning awards for their perspective roles, as well as a win for best musical/comedy. I wasn’t too worried.

There were a lot of good quotes from the night, mostly from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s banter, but my favorite quote, or at least the one that I remember the most comes from Anne Hathaway’s acceptance speech when she said,

Thank you for this lovely blunt object that I will forevermore use as a weapon against self doubt.

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The quote made me think of Anne Hathaway using her Catwoman skills and new Golden Globes award to fight intruders, murderers, thieves, and general evil doers in the world. It was nice to know too that the princess of Genovia, Catwoman, and Fontaine have self doubt as well.

This made me think of my story. A few weeks ago everything was going swimmingly. The antagonist, Augustus Moragin, practically created himself with motivations and all. The whole “the key to beating writers block is to keep writing” was working like a charm. For a while. But then I didn’t do anything with it for a few days and working on it became very hard.

In my list of questions and notes, I started jumping ahead and worrying about things that will come together as the story continues to develop – things that I really didn’t need to focus on right now. Like what is the genre of the story. It seems to fit in well to the YA genre. If it is YA does that mean that there has to be a love triangle? I don’t really want there to be a love triangle. Romance maybe, but I feel like love triangles are overdone now a days in YA fiction, and I would rather work on some other aspect of the story. These are not important questions for where I am in the story. If I don’t want a love triangle – there will not be a love triangle. It’s my story  that I am in control of.

That is one of the reasons I like writing – its like a puzzle. You make a character do something and then you have to go back and fill in things like motive or what happens next. Everything fits together somehow the way you want it to, things happen that you didn’t plan on, and then it becomes a story. That you yourself create. It is yours and yours alone.

Another hurdle I had to deal with was the fact that my story takes place at a school. Probably a college, although possibly a grad school. It is still in the works (and this would affect the genre mentioned before). My first thought on writing a “school story” was that it shouldn’t look like Hogwarts. What? This isn’t even a magical story. There is time travel and fantasy, but not magic. No wizards. No wands. It’s not even in England. Scenes might take place in England as they time travel back to World War I, but the school itself is in America. None of the schools that I went to looked like Hogwarts, so what am I so worried about? I am writing this for me, not for anyone else. I can make it what I want it to be – that whole complete control idea again. It’s a nice feeling. And its much easier to create a world when you are not worried about it looking like anything else. Just make it your own. I don’t know what their school is going to look like, but I can make it whatever I want it to be.

To counteract my bouts of self doubt that are not conducive to story writing, I started making a list of good quotes to go back to when I am stuck. Things like Hemmingway’s ever famous “Write drunk, edit sober.” I keep them in my notebook along with the few scenes and lots of notes that I have. I don’t see myself winning a Golden Globe that I can use against self doubt, so in the mean time I will use the quotes of others to get me through and to keep me original. I’m pretty excited to see how everything turns out!

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