How do we keep writing in times of doubt? How do we have faith in our books and ourselves?

Today, on Chantress‘s release date, I’ve been thinking a lot about these questions. It took me about six years to write Chantress, and for all kinds of reasons I found it hard to keep going. At times it was hard for me to believe the book would ever be finished, let alone published. And yet still I kept working on it. Why?

I’ve been leafing through my writing journals for answers. There’s plenty of anguish in those journals, and often the joy of creation is swamped by doubt, discouragement, and fear. But this entry from November 2007 leaped out at me:

I’m feeling discouraged today…. everyone has zoomed past me. It’s been 2 ½ years since my last book was published, and 4 ½ since my last children’s book was published. That’s an eon in the book world. Arrrrgh.

(In the end the gap between books would amount to a full EIGHT YEARS. Probably just as well that I didn’t know that then.)

But what really got me was what I wrote next:

Still, I am where I am. And I am *who* I am. And that’s where I have to start.

Yes.

As a very wise writer I know once said, “You need to write the book that only you can write.”

And if you do that, you have something to hold on to, no matter what. I was working this out during these years, as you can see from what I wrote in another journal entry:

[I’m reminded again that] writing really is about an inner life — about a gradual and quiet unfolding of the soul. It’s a messy process sometimes, a stumbling in the dark, but it’s where the real work and growth happen.

I’m sending heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped me during this long journey, and to everyone who’s celebrating with me today. And I’m wishing courage and good cheer to all those who, like me, often struggle with dark and doubt, as we work to be true to ourselves.

West Oxfordshire-20130403-01525

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