I am participating in the Writing Contest: Writers Crushing Doubt. Hosted by Positive Writer. – See more at: http://positivewriter.com/writing-contest-2016/#sthash.X1qSm6vJ.dpuf
I choked on the air. It reeked of the thick plastic mask that was clamped down over my face.
The sharp scent of anesthesia made my nose prickle and my eyes burn. My heart kicked frantically in my chest as I lay on the operating table. The emergency surgeon stepped up next to me.
Panic consumed me. Chances were fantastic that I was going to die right there on that table. But that wasn’t what was stirring my blood. It was the fact that I hadn’t made an attempt at starting, and very much less publishing, my book.
I hadn’t taken my life’s dream seriously.
All because of doubt.
That night’s emergency surgery four years ago was the jolt I needed to bring me back to my senses. Why had I been letting doubt rule my life? Why had I allowed it to keep me from my dream of writing? It wasn’t just the singular doubt that I couldn’t do it. No, it was a myriad of a thousand others: the crushing despair that I wouldn’t write anything that mattered, that readers wouldn’t love what I’d written, if I even made it past the slush pile in the first place.
Doubt became Enemy Number One pretty darn quickly. And with plenty of time on my hands during recovery where my body was limited to bed but my mind was sharp as a sword, I set about the process of slaying the beast. Keystroke by keystroke, word by word, I began the novel that had been chewing through the restraints in the back of my brain. It was completely freeing to at least get it down on paper. The first draft was worthy of lining the cat’s litter box. But I wasn’t going to stop there and let doubt creep in. Polishing to perfection, well, that’s what editing was for. The beautiful thing about it was that I wasn’t going into battle alone.
I sought out valuable resources. I hooked up with a local writer’s group and made it a point to show up at their monthly classes and critique groups. I even signed up for a writer’s conference. At these events, I met other writers who were just like me: struggling with all those doubts and fighting them just as hard as I was. And together, we started arming each other for the war against doubt. We shared battle tactics and cheered each other on through successes or the epic and inevitable swing-and-a-miss.
And somewhere in there, I realized that I had a voice. I had something important to say to the world. My novel was not only a compelling story, but one that could encourage someone out there reading it. It could help someone struggling through the same health issues I myself had faced, and that the book regarded. It could help someone face the doubts in their own life, if I could just overcome the doubts of writing.
So I persevere. I have devoted time to write each day. Every word I write is an act of defiance against the doubt that would try to defeat me. And as I approach the moment that I begin to pitch these words I’ve written to agents and editors, I square my shoulders and hold my head high knowing that I’ve got the stuff it takes to succeed. Life is too short to spend it cowering under the shadow of doubt. Fight back, get out from under it’s shadow and do that which your soul is longing to do. And don’t wait so long that you’ve missed your chance. There are no rewrites in the story of life.