Disclaimer: Profanity ahead.
All four of my children are good writers, but only the youngest enjoys it. Which is great for me, as she and I swap plot lines and brainstorm ideas and figure out how to up the stakes. She’s an excellent writing partner, though she can’t read all my work (she is only fourteen, after all).
She’s also good at (figuratively) slapping me upside the head when that action is needed.
Several weeks ago, after I finished up my final revision for my next women’s fiction project, I told her my story was shitty. For context, this story first began in 2015, after which time I let it sit for years (as is part of my writing process). I resurrected it in early 2021 after I determined it to be the story that needed to follow Rewrite the Stars.
“What do you mean?” she said in response to me. “It’s not shitty.”
“It is. I read it again. It’s just awful. I’ve been working on it so long, and I don’t think it’s any better.”
My youngest understands revision. She read the full manuscript. She knows I did a complete overhaul of the timeline of events, attempted to make the voices distinct, massaged the conflict, defined motivations and goals. The book would never have been completed without her help.
“Mom? Can I say something?” she said.
She got up off the bed—an important detail, since she’d been lounging there for days with Covid—looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You stupid bitch.”
Don’t be shocked. We throw profanity around at our house all the time, though we normally don’t call each other names. But she didn’t need to say more. I knew what she was saying: get rid of the self-doubt, Mom, and move on.
I sat there for a moment, laughing at my youngest, reveling in the fact that she’s in a far better place emotionally and mentally than I was at her age (thank goodness). Then I watched another episode of “The Sinner” with her before finishing up my synopsis and query letter. And then? Effectively saying, “Take that!” to my inner self, I sent out a handful of query letters.
So here’s the lesson to be learned, folks: When your self-doubt snags you in its grip, get your Melina on and tell yourself, “You stupid bitch.” And do your best to move on. No need to let that little bugger hold you back.