I completed the GrubStreet Novel Incubator Program this April and when I look back at that yearlong whirlwind, I still struggle to catch my breath. Most daunting was not learning so many (new to me) literary terms. Nor was it coming to terms with the sobering reality of the publishing industry. It was not even reading each of my other classmates’ full manuscripts twice (that part was actually a lot of fun – thanks Year Four!).
The most difficult thing was keeping my own confidence in check. Could I face writing new pages on good days and bad days? Could I handle workshops full of constructive criticism and feedback without losing sight of my work? Could I face tearing apart a novel draft and rebuilding it to improve its structure? Could I kill my darlings and trust the resulting work would be better for it?
Writers are lonely creatures. No matter how supportive your community is, you are completely on your own facing the pages you are working on day after day. And that’s why having a solid understanding of your own confidence is one of the most important writing tools.