Monday, January 7, 2019

Doubt in Writing

As I continue to read about many of my favorite authors, I’m intrigued by the continual battles with doubt they each wrestled with during their entire lives. A few that come to mind include Herman Melville, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Mikhail Bulgakov just to name a few. Each of them, whether “successful” or not, nursed deep doubts regarding their writing abilities and many died with some of their most famous work unrecognized within their lifetimes.

Melville of course penned Moby Dick, one of my all time favorite novels. The book sold few copies and was out of print by the time Melville died. Both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, despite the success of their noir novels, feared that their work was only considered pulp and anguished over every sequel they ever wrote. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was written off as a nostalgic period piece, and even fellow authors thought the book showed that he had lost his ability to write. As for Bulgakov, he never thought The Master and Margarita would ever see the light of day, the manuscript having been suppressed by Soviet authorities until well after his death.

To me, it is very human to doubt, and I find it very inspiring that many authors not only struggled with doubts, but used it to fuel their writing careers. They turned a very natural disadvantage into the grist for their mill, infusing their own characters with doubts that make them very human and relatable. So how do you deal with doubts in your daily life?