Standing on the Corner of Writer’s Block and Dead-End Street

Self-doubt can be a writer’s most dangerous obstacle while the will to finish is the writer’s most important tool.

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I never imagined how incredibly hard publishing a manuscript would be.

How lonely publishing a manuscript can be.

How frightening it can be.

How hopeless it can be.

After all, when you’re doing what you love, it’s not supposed to be work, right?

Revising my manuscript has brought out an ugly side of me—a side that doesn’t like to write or read or talk about it. An alter ego who wants to run away and hide instead of wishing there was more time to enjoy it.

Over the last three weeks, I have spent more time thinking about quitting than I have actually spent working on my manuscript.

There’s a lot of personal pressure to see this book published. Sure, I put most of that on myself, but that doesn’t make it any easier to manage. When the hubs and I have kids, my manuscript will be shoved to the back of the bottom shelf in the pantry where all the cookbooks I never use are stored. That whole new and complicated and sleep-deprived and selfless chapter of our lives will be amazing, but this is something I have to achieve for myself first.

There’s also the looming deadline of the West Virginia Book Festival, which is where I had planned to launch #Scars. There’s nothing like being less than 10 days out from the registration deadline and fighting your way through serious doubts over whether the book will even get done. Which takes me back to the question at the root of my torment: “Is this one worth finishing?”

And have I told you what it’s like to try to revise a manuscript? I’m so far deep into rewriting, deleting, and rewriting again, I got to where I wasn’t sure what I’ve kept and what I cut back out. I seriously got stuck in a manuscript maze. I couldn’t tell up from down or right from left, and I got to the point where I just wanted out. I didn’t care if I published—I didn’t want to do it anymore.

When I considered, for the umpteenth time, what would happen if I just didn’t finish it, I thought about the book festival. I thought about my blog and my author page on Facebook. It would be a failure, yes, and people would ask me awkward questions about finishing the book that would never be done. But then I started thinking about my mom, my sister, my husband, and all my friends cheering me on.

And then I came across this quote on Instagram: “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.”

I was honestly at the point where I didn’t even know what to do anymore. That’s when I stopped my revisions and printed the book with all its changes. The little voice in my head warned me against this, citing that editing vortex dilemma, but my logic told me I had already changed so much, I needed to see where I was headed before I could go on any further.

I chastised myself for taking what seemed like a step backwards, but in hindsight, I think it was the right move. I got through the first 60 the first night, and while there are still some small kinks, I’m happy with where those 60 pages are. It—along with my supportive, albeit biased, fan base—has me feeling optimistic. I won’t meet my original goal of finishing the revisions by March 15—not by any stretch. But I think I’ll finish, and that’s what matters. Because I didn’t come this far to only come this far.

Author: Jennifer Jett Prezkop

You and me—we have something in common. I can tell. Maybe you have big dreams and even bigger obstacles getting in the way of those dreams. Or maybe you say yes to everything and then wonder why you have no time to pursue your dreams. Maybe you're a first-time author who’s so excited to introduce your creation to the world that you just can't stand it. Or you're about to embark on a journey into self-publishing, second-guessing yourself with every step. Maybe you've moved and you're homesick, and it’s glaringly obvious every time you go out in public in your blue and gold that you're the thing in the scarlet and gray world that doesn't quite belong. Whatever our similarities, whatever brought you to my blog: welcome. If you stick with me long enough, this die-hard West Virginian who works as a magazine editor by day and moonlights as a wannabe novelist might just show you something worth sharing.

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