Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Confidence... or Arrogant Cockiness?

So you guys know I write in a tiny niche. And when I started in that niche, I'd read everything. No, really, I mean Every. Single. Story. Ever. Published. (for money, at least) in that niche. And I'd read a great deal of stories people were just writing and posting on (what were they called back then?) newsgroups?

When I started writing, it was easy to be a little bit original. (Not so easy to write well, LOL!) I knew everything that had come before. I'd read everything. Everything. It gave me confidence.

And now, I am completely comfortable taking an idea that's been done to death and making it my own.

I mean, I'm confident to the point of probably a touch of unjustified arrogance.

Either way, I know pseudonym can make any story interesting. I know she can make any idea work. I know she can make any idea feel fresh, whether it's original or not. (At least to those who enjoy that niche.)

No problem. Just sit down and do it. It might not be as good as my last story, or whatever, but I can make it work. And sure, I'll fuss and fret to make it better, worry it's the first story that sucks, you know. But in the end, it gets done.

So I can't even begin to explain the frustration I feel when I work my brain to come up with an original idea for me (er, real name me), and I have zero confidence. And then I turn around and the idea I've come up with has been done.

A million times.

And I feel zero confidence in my real name to take an idea that's been done and twist it until it's "freshly mine." LOL.

And these issues I have are getting SO OLD, honestly. And FRUSTRATING!

Well, anyway, that's the real reason I created The Spy Books Drop Site.  I wanted to feel that foundation, know the genre so well that I could replicate the confidence I feel with my pseudonym.

Because, frankly, this freaking character will not leave me alone. I've dumped her thousands of times. I've tried to put her in other genres.

I just don't know what else to do.

So let's hope it helps give me some confidence. Who knows. If it sells some author's books in the meantime, then that's awesome.

So have you ever felt like you've been banging your head against the wall for years? Do you ever lose confidence that you can tell a story your own way, when it's been done a million times?

Sometimes I think writing takes a touch of cockiness. You need that confidence, that in-your-face strength of voice that gives a reader no choice but to be dragged into the story. I love writers whose voice "comes on strong" when they write.

I also think that cockiness has to be tempered by a good bit of worrying you suck. Even things out, you know? Being neurotic in private (or on your blog, LOL!) makes you question everything you do, refine it, make sure it has a purpose.

Writing is a bit crazy.

I guess I need my "real name" to find her inner cocky bitch. ;-) 

She's got the neurotic worrywart down pat.

What do you do when you find you're writing a story that's been done before? I know, I know, twist it, make it your own. But I just feel like everyone has done it better than me. Argh.

Oh well. What can you do? Get through it, somehow.

12 bonus scribbles:

Christa M. Miller 6/25/2008 05:28:00 PM  

During my (not quite voluntary) time off from writing fiction this past spring, I have entertained the notion that my crime fiction can't possibly say anything that others aren't saying better. I try not let that thought take hold, though. That editors have bought my stuff indicates that somehow I can bring something new to the genre.

I think ultimately, "make it your own" simply means pulling characters/people, situations, and feelings out of your own past and those of the people you meet to create a new way of handling an old situation. Only you have heard certain conversations, been in certain situations. And while most situations are finite, the way people handle them are not. That's where the story lies.

I find my fiction becomes much more interesting and compelling when I draw it from life. Which is one reason why I haven't minded the hiatus - I've experienced so much this past month that I know will make it into my fiction at some point!

Susan Helene Gottfried 6/25/2008 08:00:00 PM  

I've banged my head against the wall for so long now, you'd have thought I'd have given myself a lobotomy.

Hang in there. Progress will be made.

(Hey, what's in a name, anyway? A rose by any other name... you know that drill. You ARE as good as your pseudonym. I promise.)

spyscribbler 6/25/2008 08:37:00 PM  

Christa, wow, that's great to know. Our life does definitely color our fiction. I sometimes worry I'm too weird, LOL. I will definitely think of drawing from my life more. Maybe that will help.

spyscribbler 6/25/2008 08:38:00 PM  

LOL, Susan! I'm hanging. Not well, but doing, I guess. :-) I didn't mean to suggest that I thought pseudonym was GOOD, just that she was confident. Sometimes overconfident.

And that I really wish I could bring that confidence with me into a new genre.

Liz Wolfe 6/25/2008 09:07:00 PM  

I bounce back and forth between thinking that my stuff is the greatest, most original thing ever and wondering why I'm wasting the electrons to put it on the screen. I choose to believe that is a normal condition for a writer...LOL.
Stop worrying (I know it's not easy) and write. Even if you think it's crap, write it anyway. There's just no way that pseudonym can be that different from real-name -- as far as writing ability. Believe in yourself.
And remind me of that when I start whining.

Edie 6/25/2008 10:54:00 PM  

Spy, I'm the opposite. I know the business says they want the same but different, but I worry that maybe they really don't. Maybe they just want the same, in which case I'm screwed.

Anyway, I'm just going on, doing the best I can and trying to do better.

Christa says it well about making it your own. Even if your plot is similar, your voice and your experience will make it yours.

spyscribbler 6/25/2008 11:05:00 PM  

Liz, you're right. I keep telling myself to just write a SUCKY first story. Just write a horrible one. I even imagined writing a TERRIBLE one, like over-terrible, like try really hard to make it really bad.

And you'd think there'd be no difference, but I'm starting to suspect pseudonym has been writing the same story over and over and over again.

spyscribbler 6/25/2008 11:07:00 PM  

Edie, no, that's brilliant! I'm going to start obsessing about needing to write the same, and then maybe everything will balance out, LOL!

Do the best I can and try to make it better. I can live with that. That's good advice. That's post-it worthy.

Like Stephanie Plum, one foot in front of the other.

Bernita 6/26/2008 06:45:00 AM  

The voice, the details, the pov can make a story new and different - and it's not for me to decide if the result is fresh. I just have to try to make it so.

lainey bancroft 6/26/2008 09:56:00 AM  

There's no such thing as too weird. Is there? :0

Pseudonym you just has the comfortable confidence of completely a relatively 'same' task successfully. Practice makes perfect and all that. Spy you will get there!

spyscribbler 6/26/2008 04:55:00 PM  

Bernita, what a great way to work! I'm going to see if that mindset helps. :-)

spyscribbler 6/26/2008 05:01:00 PM  

Lainey, I hope not! :-) You're right about the practice makes it more comfortable. I remember the first couple novellas pseudonym wrote were a complete mess, and I never thought I'd get through them!