Confidence, AKA “Huh?”

Debbie Schubert’s terrific post got me thinking, and I came to an amazing realization: I have confidence about my books.

“Huh?” you say. Hey, this is a new thing, I say. Let me revel in it for a while.

I know it probably seems like I already had this confidence, what with deciding to do this “for reals” and posting about it all the time. Well, it’s a funny thing about creative effort: you can want it more than anything, want it enough to be willing to throw all dignity to the wind and be open to criticism, want it enough to try for years… but that doesn’t mean you believe that you’re any good at it.

It’s a funny thing about creative effort: you can want it more than anything, but that doesn’t mean you believe that you’re any good at it.

Maybe will-be-good-someday. Not now, though. Surely not.

Except… I think I finally am.

I’ve been studying this. How to plot, how to keep scenes moving forward, how to edit viciously and maliciously if necessary. How to love characters I barely know, how to make them important to the reader so the reader loves them too, and how to behave professionally so other professionals think I’m one of them.

Notice that? “Think” I’m one of them – like I’m not.

I still don’t feel like I am. I do, however, feel like I’m finally writing. What I turned out in The Sundered is the best I’ve done to date, bar none. I can look at it, open it up to any random point, and not hate what I see.

This has never happened before.

So now I’m working on a paranormal romance – a genre I’ve never written in, though I’ve read a lot – and I know I have a looooong way to to before this becomes fully readable.

Yet, at the same time, I can do this:

*****

There was an angel on the steps behind Murphy.

For one shiny, shattered moment, Maggie thought she’d gone mad. It wasn’t impossible. She worked a high-pressure job and shared her innermost self with no one. Willing the vision to go away, she blinked. He was still there. More importantly, it suddenly seemed strange that anything other than he had ever mattered.

The angel was luminous. Light spilled from his golden wings, and his long gold hair wafted in the breeze. He stood with a glorious smile like a beam of sunlight piercing deep water, and when his eyes passed over her, something happened. Warmth shivered up her skin, warm enough to shatter ice, to melt gold, to ruin silver.

The angel ignored everyone. He smiled with a beauty that ached like old memories or half-forgotten songs, and he touched the child’s face with hands dappled by the light from his wings. Then in a movement too fast to track, angel and child vanished.

It was like a slap to a sleepwalker. Half the surging crowd fell, too shocked to find themselves moving to maintain their balance. The rest started shouting.

Maggie realized she’d nearly drooled on herself and shuddered hard, her deep-water place gone suddenly cold. The angel was gone. He wasn’t anywhere on the street or overhead – never mind that looking up was a conscious admission that the wings might have been real. Not that they could be. Beauty like that could exist. It was too painful.

The skies were clear. The child was gone. The mayor’s child was gone.

Half a dozen steps higher, Murphy shouted over everybody: “What the hell just happened?”

Good question. Maggie shook, but that was okay. Everybody else shook, too.

*****

Is it the best thing ever? Of course not. Is it actually decent for a first draft? Yes. It is.

This has never happened before.

I feel good.

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