Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Evil Minion Takeover

Like most writers, I believe that my story is genius. It's new and refreshing. It's something the world needs to see. Society as we know it will compeletly evolve just by peeking inside. It might even bring world peace. (Do these thoughts sound familiar? Yea, I though so.)

Last night, as I was online looking up more dystopian novels, I decided to look at the reviews for a book that had been recommended to me. I had heard that the writer was a forerunner of dystopian YA novels, and wanted to know what people we're saying about it.

"She should give half of her salary to Lois Lowry for stealing her story."
"How original. A totalitarian society where people all look and act the same."
"The character's relationships seemed totally fake and the plot was predictable of the dystopian genre."

These were the first things I read.

My heart started racing.
I started to panic.
"But I write dystopian novels," I said to myself.
"My story takes place in a, (you guessed it), totalitarian society.
Maybe it was too inspired by The Giver after all.
Oh my gosh!
My story's horrible!
This is horrible.
They having been saying the dystopian market is at it's peak.
Maybe it's ending!
Maybe it's too late!
It's the end of the world!
Stupid evil minions taking over my brain!

End scene.

This, ladies and gentlemen, was my first ever moment of self-doubt. It was terrifying. I felt like my world was caving in around me. But then I took a deep breath and thought about this.

1) The circumstances of my society are different than one I have yet read.
2) Though much of the laws are similar to other novels, the government system is unique to my book.
3) The main focus of my book is the growth and questions that they discover as they turn against the society. Making it more about relationships and self-discovery than dystopia.
4) It discusses updated issues relevent to today.
5) Every book is unique. Every writer has his/her own voice and every setting and every character is different.

My life began to recover. My world was suddenly ok. The evil minion takeover subsided. I was breathing. Life was good.

I post this, because I know that we all have those moments when we doubt ourself. Whether the doubt comes from a critique (of our own book or someone else's) from rejection (from an agent or editor) or just from general paranoia, the little minions sometimes get the best of it. But I'm here to tell you, it's all going to be ok. Breathe it out. Work through it. And you'll have more faith in yourself in the end


  1. Glad you were able to pull yourself out of your self doubt! All 5 of your points are correct, especially #5.

    Unless you've lived entirely in isolation without books, movies, music, or even conversation with others, it's impossible to be 100% original, isn't it?

    Just tell the story that you need to tell the best way you can! That's original.

    Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

  2. I have these moment all the time, but most when I am reading something or watching some and I have a moment of "Hey.... that's kinda like my WIP" and then I have all of the thoughts you do. But like you I am eventually able to snap myself out of it by remembering how my story is different, and likewise how my story is not really about the world and more about the people. I am glad you finally got yourself out of it. Because your story is different, and people will ALWAYS find something to gripe about about , it should not get you down.

  3. I haven't really experienced self doubt. My first draft was so bad, I just pretend I never wrote that. So I only have a few thousand words to doubt in my novel. ;) But it's good you could pull yourself out of it!

  4. I experience moments like this all the time, particularly when I read an amazing book. I think, 'My book will never be anywhere near as good as this, so why am I even trying?'

    But then I give myself a good shake and remind myself that the surest way to fail is to give up! And as you've said, each book has its own uniqueness, its own style and deserves to be written. There will always be critics out there, but there will also be people who love what you do!

    Oh, and I answered your question about what my book's about over on my blog, in case you haven't seen it yet. :-)

  5. Hi Gina, Hi Cally,

    I know what you both mean. Reading books in the same genre and going 'oh that is how you do it...'or some other such moment.

    very sobering. But the best thing to do is keep writing. Even if your story isn't the best market to publish just as you finish you never know what a few months may bring, and if it IS excellent they will publish it anyway.:-)

    Good job coming out the end there Gina and getting over the self doubt. Its really hard.
    @ Cally, yep you can't do anything if you give up!

    Great job guys!

    JUST KEEP WRITING is my new motto - "The little pen that could..."

  6. Gina I SO UNDERSTAND YOU! I had zero self-doubt for a really long time, especially in the area of 'my idea has been done'. I might have questioned if my writing was good enough to be published, but never if it was creative enough to be different. I knew it was unique. It came out of my head, after all.

    I've written different things, but the best one, the one that I think will be THE ONE is dystopian, and from the moment I wrote it, I knew love. Dystopia is my true love. But, while I was still finishing the first draft of my dystopian...

    The Hunger Games came out. I wasn't fazed. Mine was totally different. Even when it seemed that some agents felt that dystopians were falling off, I knew mine was different.

    Then Bones of Faerie came out. And I loved it. But I also suffered catastrophic terror because, guess what, MY dystopian involved Faerie-like beings warring with humans, after an apocalyptic event. I despaired, even as I continued working on my story and querying it.

    Then I met Bones of Faerie author, Janni Lee Simner. And, get this, she LOVED that someone else was writing a dystopian that involved Faeries! In fact the ONLY real similarity between Bones of Faerie and my as-of-yet-unpublished novel is the presence of Faerie-like creatures.

    Janni told me to keep at things, assured me that there was plenty of room in the world for another dystopian. She said 'No matter what, write what you love.'

    So take it from a professional (like I did) and KEEP WRITING!!! :D

  7. I get these attacks too sometimes. I try to deal with in once and for all, but those pesky evil minions just won't die.


  8. Never give up. All of us have something unique to say.

  9. I know just what you're saying I've had the self-doubt myself, and it sucks when it happens. The best thing you can do is press through it.

  10. I think it's sort of a writer's curse, and we all have those somebody-should-take-away-my-inkpens moments. :) It's amazing how day we can think are work deserves an award, and then on bad days, we think somebody should use it for toilet paper.

  11. Amen. I have to constantly remind myself not to give it up.

  12. Self doubt is a big part of the process. Funny thing is, I think there are only a certain number of "big picture" ideas out there's what a writer does to make the archetype their own that makes all the difference. Good luck with your dystopian!!!

  13. coming by from the crusade. I battle with self-doubt quite a bit. But anything worth doing takes hard work and patience and a couple handfuls of hair (ouch) :)