Writing–am I good enough?

Last week was Easter, and I didn’t write a blog because Tyler was home from college and things got busy.  Starting tomorrow night, I’ll have a strict no writing, just play policy.  We’re going to Florida to visit my daugher and son-in-law, and John’s brother is flying from San Francisco to meet us there.  We won’t get back until the 19th.  I’ll miss my blog,  e-mails, twitter, and facebook, but it’s not a vacation if I keep my usual routine.  I used to feel serious guilt when I wasn’t pounding out words at my computer or trying to market my books/novellas, but I’ve relaxed a little.  (I say that now, but by the 17th, I’ll probably be worrying that all of my novels will tank because I’m not here, pampering them:)

The thing is, most writers have an insecurity or two.  We love the actual process of writing, but we always wonder if we’re good enough, if readers will like what we put on offer, and if enough readers will ever like us to make us serious contenders on the charts.  We write and rewrite, trying to make our book as good as we can make it.  And then we worry.  Did the plot work?  Did we hold the readers’ attention or have pages they skimmed over?  Did the readers like or care about our characters?  And after we get some good reviews, and we’re starting to feel a little frisky, someone is happy to give us a low rating and point out all of the flaws he/she found between our book covers.  I’ve learned from some of the helpful reviews, the ones that say “I liked this, but ….”  I don’t expect to write a perfect book, even when I try, so I’m interested in what readers consider my weaknesses.  Lately, though, I’ve read two blogs by writers who are seriously doubting themselves because their books haven’t sold like they hoped they would.

There are many reasons that books don’t sell.  One might be that the writer still has more to learn, that the book has too many flaws.  But another reason could be that not enough people FIND the book.  Marketing takes time and effort.  I’m still not comfortable with it.  I’ve read over and over that one book isn’t enough to give an author any marketing clout, that more books mean more sells.  Others say that writing a series helps.   I’ve heard that 50 reviews is the “magic” number that helps lift a writer’s ranking.  Some genres sell better than others, but if a writer tries for a “hot” market, it could easily be glutted by the time he gets his novel finished–and then there are LOTS of books for readers to choose from, and his might get lost in the masses.  Accordingly, many pros tell us to write what we’re passionate about.  The passion shines through.

I’m guessing that most writers will never feel like they got everything right.  The next book will always be better.  And hopefully, it is.  But there are no guarantees.  Every book is different.  Just like kids, each one comes with its own challenges.  And just like most parents I know, we’ll second guess ourselves on whether we did everything the right way, or if maybe we could have done it better.  And the truth is, we’re never going to please everybody.  What one reader likes, another might hate.  So all we can do is write–and do it to the best of our ability or creativity or whatever’s driving us at that moment.  And eventually, we’ll get better and find our niche and get things more right than wrong.  (And we’ll still probably worry).

(I won’t be here to reply to any comments until after the 19th, so if you don’t hear from me, that’s why.  We have house/dog sitters, but they don’t blog).