There's nothing more cliche´ than a self-doubting artist.
It's all part of the process. We pour our hearts and souls into our creations, and the world can be. . . Well, the world can we indifferent. The market can be cruel. Especially early on when you are trying to make a dent.
As a result, self-doubt can leak into your creative process.
I liken self-doubt to debt and belly fat. It creeps on you slowly, building and building, until eventually, you are crippled by indecision. There are times when I can't even write a simple Instagram post without having five people check for spelling errors.
On the surface, I know that the publishing world, just like the music world, the art world, they are all businesses. It doesn't have time to coddle the feelings of the thousands of artists trying to break down its doors. But that doesn't make it any easier to swallow rejection.
Here are a few recent rejections of my own:
While I can see what **** saw in your writing, the format isn't quite right for my list. I wish you the best with your work.
Many thanks for sending me your submission, which I read with interest. I'm afraid, however, that I didn't feel passionately enough about it to offer representation, but our business is subjective by nature and another agent may well feel differently. I wish you...
I'm sorry I don't have better news. As you might know, I have been very particular about taking on new projects and it's entirely possible you'll find another agent able to prove me wrong.
One or two. Fine. It's subjective. But once these bad boys start piling up, shit can get dark! Real dark. Suddenly, your life's work is called into question. Oh my gosh, I spent years working on this novel. Shit. What have I done? Is this not my calling? What am I put here to do if not this? NOOOOOO!!! Glass case of emotion.
This is why every artist needs one person to believe in them.
Just one person who can pick them off the floor.
One person who can shine light through the cloud of self-doubt.
A voice of truth.
For me, that's my wife. She knows how to handle me after a big rejection. She puts up with me watching creepy stuff on Netflix when I'm writing thrillers, and Harry Potter when I'm writing middle grade fantasy . She has never treated me like a struggling author. She reads my 300-page novels, even though she prefers the books with big pictures and twenty pages or less.
She knows when I need tough love or an encouraging word.
She knows when I'm lost in one of my worlds.
But most of all, she has never let me quit.
Honestly, self-doubt will never go away. It's a cruel mistress that has been torturing artists since the beginning of time. But somewhere deep down, even when self-doubt is screaming bloody murder in my ear, I have a second voice that is pushing me onward. Every artist deserves someone like that -- a partner, a friend, a parent, God, someone who believes in you more than you believe in yourself.