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As I read Wally Lamb’s “The Hour I First Believed” I realized that I would most likely never be the kind of novelist to write 700+ page novels. Wally Lamb is an ultra-marathon novelist. He took his time to write this novel. And that, my friends, is a luxury in the writing world.
After huge success with his novels “She’s Come Undone” and “I Know This Much Is True”, Wally Lamb gained uncommon popularity. I mean, Oprah loved him. LOVED HIM! And because of her endorsement, Lamb’s books were New York Times sweethearts (every author’s dream). He won awards. Scored interviews. Went on long book tours. Whew. Whirlwind.
But then, more than 10 years passed with nothing from Mr. Lamb. In a culture where we can’t wait 5 minutes for the kid at McDonald’s to make fresh fries, 10 years is an eternity. Death for a writer. 10 years means that the author would need to rebuild everything he/she has done. Platform, friends. It’s all about keeping up your readership.
In the back of “The Hour I first Believed” I found a “conversation” with Wally Lamb. The first question is about this long pause in his novel releases. His answer has caused me to think. He said,
“I hope this doesn’t sound off or ungrateful, but I sort of had to get over ‘bestsellerdom.’ Readers had responded so generously to my first two novels that I had to conquer the fear of writing the first sentence of my third, lest I disappoint everyone.”
A few weeks ago, the authors of WhiteFire Publishing were discussing the “freak out” that happens after the contract is signed. Writers are fragile. We must be handled with great care. And, even after we get the book deals and the release dates and the really pretty book covers, we still wonder if we’re worthy. We sometimes feel like frauds. Worried that one of these days someone will figure out that we aren’t really all that good at writing.
But Wally Lamb feels that, too?
And John Steinbeck felt that way, saying once, “I’m afraid this novel isn’t any good.” (that was in reference to “The Grapes of Wrath”)
And Anne Lamott felt that way.
And Steven King.
I could go on.
We all have insecurities (even people who act like they don’t). We all feel not-good-enough sometimes. Isn’t it at least a teeny tiny bit reassuring that we aren’t the only ones? That even the “greats” feel less-than-great every once in awhile.
Tell me, what do you sometimes feel insecure about? Who do you admire? Do you think they have feelings of inadequacies? How do you deal with these feelings of not being good enough?
Let’s share. This isn’t only about writing. It is about life. And, let me tell you, you are good enough. Smart enough. And, doggon it, people like you.
I loved those Stewert Smalley’s skits! We all have doubts. And its OK – as long as you keep doing what you love and pushing yourself forward for the right reasons. I often have doubts because I am worried I will fail. Yet in hindsight I notice that through my failures, I tend to learn the MOST – leading me to eventual success.
Ah. Vintage SNL. Gotta love it! 🙂
Yes! Failure teaches us so much. I look back fondly on all the times I didn’t get what I was going for. It wasn’t the best at the time…but I see how God used it to show me something so much better!