Not Good Enough

A friend of mine was in San Diego for Comic Con.  Unlike me, he didn’t go as a spectator, but as part of his job.  He’s a writer on a hit TV show.  He’s also been a writer on few TV shows that weren’t quite hits, but still as a writer, naturally he was one of the first to get a copy of the rough draft my book.  

I wanted his feedback, his honest opinion, and of course, his overwhelming love and support.

First printout of first draft.

First printout of first draft.

So I mailed it to him...months ago.  As I waited for his response, several friends and family poured in their own reviews of my book.  One even read it three times, sending back a copy with detailed line-by-line edits.  I listened to critiques, hated some of my closest friends for a moment for their critiques, and then hired an editor and plowed forward in my quest to make something publishable.  

Yet, I still desperately wanted his thoughts.  He writes for a living.  Someone pays him for what he puts on paper.  And since he just bought a house in the LA area, I’m imagining someone pays him a pretty penny.  So despite the progress I’ve made without him, I anxiously awaited what he would say.  

Then finally, just days before Comic Con, I got a text.  He had finished it.

We met for dinner, in a crowded and loud bar.  And then he said the words of so many before him, “You have a good story, but...”

There’s always seems to be a ‘but’.  

He laid out what I thought were thoughtful and honest opinions.  Unfortunately, they were opinions I agreed with.  My story has holes.  It’s not that I hadn’t heard this before.  My own editor told me so.  (And so did almost every single friend who lovingly offered to read it while in its sad rough draft form.)  It’s just that he said it in “writer speak”... using words I fully understood.  For the first time, I truly grasped at what was missing.

If you remember, last week I posted about my time at Comic Con and told you how I was so encouraged and inspired by all the storytellers around me.  What I didn’t tell you, was how I also felt just the opposite.  Not good enough.  How I became crippled by my own feelings of inadequacy and spent the rest of the week ignoring the work left to be done on No Beauty Queen.  Instead, watching a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon and obsessing over web hits.

I had thought I was doing so well.  There’s only five chapters left in the first round of edits.  That means I’m near finished and that by the end of next month, I’ll be pitching to agents!  

So I had a full freak out on my editor, because now I believe her when she points out all those areas that need work.  How can I pitch to agents such a big ball of crap?  These 75,000 words can’t compare to what I saw at Comic Con - they come nowhere close!

Insecurity hits like a ton of bricks.

I’m reminded of the story of Jesus walking on water.  Peter (one of Jesus’ disciples) sees Jesus walking on the sea and calls out, “If it’s you, tell me and I’ll come out to you!”  Sure enough, Peter starts walking on water too.  I’ve always identified with that.  There’s something in me that gets Peter.  He’s always ready for a fight.  He has tons of grit.  I even understand his smart ass mouth that has the Son of God calling him Satan of all things.  But then Peter “starts to doubt” and falls in.  

Jesus asked him why he doubted, but I’m asking who did he doubt?  

I’ve believed for so long he doubted Jesus.  But I don’t think that’s right.  Jesus didn’t fall in.  Jesus was doing just fine with the waves crashing around him.  

No.  

Peter doubted himself.

I’m already on the water.  No paycheck and a crazy idea that I can get a book published that uses both the "F" word and explains a speaking in tongues experience.  Yet, in the home stretch, I’m about to fall into the depths of the sea.  All because I doubt myself.  Because I see the flaws my friends have so lovingly pointed out, and I know they’re true.  

Line-by-line edits.  And this is before a professional got a hold of it!

Line-by-line edits.  And this is before a professional got a hold of it!

These are the moments where I need grace.  Where I rely on it, to fill the gap.  I wait for it, pray for it, and listen to my editor when she says these holes are easy to fix.  

The holes are in my work … not in me.

So I turn my computer back on and once again sift through all the ‘red’ marks still remaining on the page.