It seems like every time I pick up a new mystery writer these days, I end up in a funk and feel like quitting (currently revising the draft of my first mystery novel). How do you convince yourself that you don't suck, when there are so many talented crime writers around?


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Turn it around. These new authors mean that, despite the apparently insurmountable difficulties, new writers DO get published. You have a chance. Persistence is a must.
"Everything stinks till it's finished." — Dr. Seuss
And even then, sometimes.
Thomas hits it on the head. The working title for all of my books was pretty much "what the hell is this mess?" I wrote my first novel in fits and starts (mostly fits) over seven years--it took me that long to teach myself the craft of novel-writing, formulate the plot (something I had no experience with), figure out my characters, and decide that the mystery novel was actually worth pursuing/finishing. Self-loathing is a normal part of the biz, unfortunately--my solution is to self-medicate with scotch and Stratocasters.
I always start with a lot of enthusiasm, I've usually got some characters I think are a lot of fun to hang around with - but somewhere after the first hundred pages it starts to become a huge mess. Now that I've done it a few times I realize that for me, anyway, the big mess is one of the stages it goes through on the way to being a book.

Of course, I still stress over the fact it's nothing but a big mess, but I have a tiny bit more confidence that it'll all work out. A tiny, tiny bit....
the big may-us. heh!
What the hell---it's part of the writer's life to self-doubt. You can't get rid of it. It won't go away on its own. You have to learn how to cope with it, Good writing isn't only about putting words on paper. Good writing needs to come from good writers who believe in themselves. THAT takes training--practice--determination.

If Chandler had doubts about his writing--and most of us in here think Chandler was the Top Dog in whodunit writing--a little ole' piss-ant like me shouldn't feel too bad he's rolling along in a sea of self-doubt.
Yes, we all deal in self-doubt. The first draft is always horrible. So you revise, and you polish, and you revise some more. Then you lay it aside, and when you return, it's still horrible, and you revise some more. In the end, exhausted, you send it off. They buy it. Oh, well, you say, it must have been better than I thought.
Now keep in mind: a lot of editors do not touch the MS. They pick titles, covers, marketing strategies. You see your book again when the copy-editor has added all his commas and quibbles. And lo: the book is horrible again, and now you cannot make any more changes.
Editing seems like a very tough job to me. I sometimes use a baseball analogy, a quote from a manager named Dick Williams who said that a "brilliant" manager could win maybe 5-10 games a year by making the perfect strategic move during a game, but would probably lose 20-30 games a year by meddling too much.

I've found the best editors are the ones that meddle the appropriate amount ;)
What a good question. If you find an answer for goodness sake let me know...please!
I think we all have those doubts. I'm approaching the point in my WIP John mentioned above: far enough in for the newness and excitement to have worn off, where I have to wonder what am I going to do with the mess I've created so far? Then I read something by Chandler or Burke or the book I'm reading now (WHAT THE DEAD KNOW by Laura Lippman) and I think I'm in way over my head.

I've found an easy solution for this: read some shit.

I write a lot of reviews, so I have to read at least a dozen books a year I don't care for. Some are real crap, but others are just bland, safe, boring. I read one of those and think, "Hell, if he got published, and does well, I should be able to." Fixes me right up.

The catch comes when you're writing well and feeling good and read somehting crappy. The natural instinct then is to lament "How did this hack get published and I'm not?" In that case, read something good. It's all relative. Just don't stop reading or writing. It will all balance out eventually.
Thank you, thank you, thank you all. I knew I couldn't be the only one...

I'm really starting to like this place.


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