Like a psychotic parrot tethered round my neck, self-doubt is a bit of a constant companion of mine; noisy, foul-mouthed, and taking every opportunity to crap on me. One of the sharper barbs in the feathery bastard’s arsenal is the suggestion that, due to my difficulty in understanding the emotions and thought processes of others, I would never really be able to write convincing characters.
As a fiction writer, this would obviously be a major drawback, and it’s something I’ve worried about for a long time now, so much so that I almost wrote a blog entry on the subject. Writing is my greatest passion, and publication my lifelong dream, so if something as basic as characterization was beyond my grasp, I’d feel about as useful as a glass cricket bat.
In my day-to-day life I find it hard enough just figuring out what other people are feeling and why; trying to convincingly recreate the behaviour of a person unlike myself on paper is kind of like how people in the 19th century tried to piece together what dinosaurs looked like with only incomplete skeletons and modern reptiles as a guide.
This past week, however, I received some feedback from an editor I’d sent one of my manuscripts to. Besides referring to me as a “great writer”, which made me blush like a love-shy fire engine, she specifically stated that my characters felt “genuine and believable”.
Those words sent me over the moon. Just like that, one of my most deeply rooted self-doubts was ripped out as if it were nothing more than a noxious weed, leaving the garden of my mind free from its insidious encroachment.
Once again, it seems I underestimated myself. I should really stop doing that.